Marc Jacobs acknowledged the dissonance between the fantasy of fashion and the reality of America at his Fall/Winter 2022 show — held at New York City's Public Library on Monday evening — by quoting Friedrich Nietzsche, an unexpected yet apt reference.
"Choice," the designer prefaced the philosophical shout-out. "We share our choices in contrast to the ongoing brutality and ugliness of a world beyond our insulated but not impermeable walls."
If, as Nietzche said, "we have art in order not to die of the truth," how does Jacobs envision our survival?
The designer went extreme, presenting twisty, voluminous silhouettes made of experimental materials (vinyl, rubber, and foil are a few examples), perhaps hinting at some not-so-distant future in which conventional textiles are inaccessible.
Set against last week's news, each look took on a defiant attitude: plasticky headscarves became armor; skirts with bustles made of lumpy sweaters knotted around the waist warped the figure; new takes on Jacobs' platform Kiki boots threatened to crush anything in their path.
The beauty was dystopian, too. Models sported bleached eyebrows and partially shaved heads, sculpted with sharp micro-bangs that wrapped around the head to the ears (Bella and Gigi Hadid were nearly unrecognizable).
The severe hair and makeup made me wonder: will dystopian, "anti-beauty" beauty surge as we weather increasingly turbulent times?
Already, we've witnessed subversive beauty trends, such as Kendall Jenner's absent eyebrows and TikTok's "one-minute mullet," take off across social media. And this month, makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench launched her own brand, a range of products inspired by the dark, industrial aesthetic of latex and kink.
Makeup has always held a mirror to politics. In the early 1900s, red lipstick became a symbol of the suffragist movement (for white women, at least). And last spring, TikTok users began poking fun at conservatives by giving themselves "Republican-sona" (short for "Republican persona") makeovers, a trend riffing on the way in which right-wingers apply makeup: thick eyeliner, mismatched foundation, and concealed lips are among the look's hallmark traits.
As America becomes increasingly inhospitable to the majority, will we see a popularization of the anti-establishment makeup of the punk movement, or an embrace of Jacobs' ascetic, alien-esque beauty?
How will our faces reflect our collective fury?