For the last year, speculation around Marc Jacobs and his brand has been at a fever pitch. The onetime crown prince of New York Fashion Week, creator of the most anticipated, most controversial show of each season, the one guaranteed to electrify the city and shore up its creative cred, beloved child of downtown, channeler of the moment, seemed to be teetering on a precipice.
In 2013, when Mr. Jacobs, then also artistic director of Louis Vuitton, left the French brand to focus on his own house — and Bernard Arnault, the LVMH chairman, spoke of an initial public offering, the one that would take Marc Jacobs-the-company out of the realm of niche and into the world of mega — he was still a hometown hero.
But the I.P.O. never materialized, rumors began to fester about problems in the business, and his retail kingdom on Bleecker Street shrank, and shrank again. A year ago at this time, he came under fire for cultural appropriation on the runway (remember the dreadlocks controversy?), and earlier this year Sebastian Suhl, his chief executive, left. Mr. Jacobs seemed, increasingly, peripheral to the conversation.
All of which is to say that his show, which was also the last of New York Fashion Week, was a lot more than just a show. It was a litmus test: of his continued relevance, which is deeply intertwined with New York’s relevance, and of his intentions.
So what color did the strip turn?
Every color of the rainbow. In a silent show held in the cavernous environs of the Park Avenue Armory, with the audience arrayed at the far edges of the space, the empty wood floor so vast that the people sitting across the way looked like little ants on their folding chairs, out came a stream of ideas and images, churned up and recombined, vivid and oversize.