Jamie xx’s track All Under One Roof Raving has been doing the soundtrack rounds at NYFW. Steel drums, good beats and a feel-good summer vibe – what’s not to like? Moreover, its golden age of rave references have been reflected in one notable show – Marc by Marc Jacobs or MBMJ for easier MC rhyming. Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley’s sophomore show had a lot to live up to. I still remember the soaring feeling of “YAAAAAAAAYYYY!” when I emerged out of the Marc by Marc show last season. It was a resounding triumph and the fruits of that labour have already started filtering out on to the streets (love spotting MBMJ par Katie and Luella on the streets at NYFW).
Whereas Jamie “xx” Smith was too young to remember the UK rave scene when it was happening, Hillier and Bartley do and are also canny enough designers to know how to extract the best stylistic references from that hedonistic music genre, and work them into a collection that is meant to resonate with Smith’s generation and younger. Funnily enough I had been rewatching Mark Leckey’s 1999 video collage Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, the primary sample track for Smith’s track. The gritty and ethereal exuberance of it definitely could be felt at the latest MBMJ collection.
In da club is where we were at but the rainbow triangular neon structure throwing mad light shadows around the room was more euphoric than hardcore. Even as models came stomping out in cloaked in edgy latex leggings, polka dot skirts and twisted bikini tops over t-shirts, courtesy of House of Harlot, there was a joy in all of it that erased any connotations of kink or darkness. Consciously or not, there were echoes of Marc Jacobs’ own A/W 11 collection, with the strictness and severity taken out.
In its place was another style tribe in the making with knotted hair (note on the hair, the reference could have been either Miley Cyrus or Bjork – we know who did it first but the question is will the new MBMJ customer?), slouchy silhouettes, bolshy pastel-dipped boots and abstract pod-like bags. Illuminati symbols and New World System slogans winked at you and like the Fergus Purcell graphics of the season before will slay people at first sight on the rails. Even when Hillier and Bartley worked in more concept with layered pleated skirts, origami folded crossed over with demi-corsets, there was still a feeling of youth-propelled insouciance.
When designers talk about their “girl”, that can sometimes seem like an abstract concept. Or just pure drivel-esque bullshit. Hillier and Bartley however have nailed their MBMJ girl. It’s so clear. Not even twenty years-plus old UK-centric club scenes or obscure artist references can derail her. She’s stomping along swiftly to her own beat of her own drum.