Have you heard the one about the young designer who was fired after showing a street style-inspired punk-heavy collection? It’s one of fashion’s favorite anecdotes; a true story that lives in sartorial folklore, and is sure to be retold in perpetuity for generations to come. It’s a story about following your instincts and trusting your gut. It’s the event that launched Marc Jacobs into fashion fame and cemented a trend that’s as red hot today as it was on that famous day in 1992. The disruptive show that got fashion royalty Marc Jacobs fired is of course the Perry Ellis Spring 1993 Ready to Wear spectacle.
Initiating a monologue on this topic without paying respect to the details of the fateful presentation itself would be sacrilegious. You can’t imagine the buzz a show like this would cause without tuning in to recorded footage, which reveals one of fashion’s quickest rising stars (Marc was only 29!) employing all of the game’s biggest names, in terms of OG supermodels, to create a truly historic 19 minutes (watch it here!). Christy Turlington opened the show wearing cropped corduroys and was followed by a parade of iconic walkers including Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Tyra Banks. Talk about star power!
These legendary catwalk celebrities stomped and glided wearing cropped cardigans and vests, babydoll tees, oversized jackets, plaid everything (shirts, dresses, skirts, etc.), maxi skirts, and baseball tee tops. On the end of their likely insured legs were black, gray, and white Dr. Martens, Converse style sneakers, and the sandal everyone loves to hate, Birkenstocks. Beauty looks included haphazardly constructed pigtails and sporadically placed barrettes. The styling and accessorizing was so quintessentially ‘90s: tees layered on top of long sleeve shirts whose sleeves were too long, shirts tied around the waist, plenty of sheer fabric, beanies, and choker necklaces.
Marc effortlessly mixed masculine workwear (baggy pants, work boots, flannel shirts) with ultra feminine pieces (floral and fruit-covered flowy skirts and dresses). The choreography of the whole stunt feels purely theatrical and mesmerizing. The applause following the finale walk and Marc’s bow almost feels ungenuine however, because the collection was absolutely annihilated in the press (and we all know what Perry Ellis did to Marc, which, if you ask us, was a big mistake on their part. Big. Yuuuge). The world wasn’t ready to see Seattle music scene-inspired “granny dresses, “lumberjack shirts,” and “work boots,” as Vogue’s Lynn Yaeger describes. In an August 2015 review of the collection, Yaeger quotes The New York Times’ Bernadine Morris who described the parade “as if it were put together with the eyes closed in a very dark room.” Regardless, while Marc Jacobs may not have solely sparked the ‘90s grunge trend that swept pop culture, he did indubitably legitimize what was happening on the street in 1992.
Pardon our ramble; we could go on all day erryday about this epic 19-minute event that changed the course of fashion and Marc Jacob’s career forever. (Can you blame us?) All of which brings us to the question, How can we pay proper tribute to Marc’s bravery and foresight today? Dr. Martens are a good place to start. Defending the Birkenstock trend is a good option. Staying true to your personal style and caring about your opinion only are nice ways. And of course, shopping vintage Marc Jacobs coats and jackets, dresses, skirts, and clothing galore on eBay isn’t a bad idea, either.