I am increasingly of the opinion that musicians just shouldn’t try to make the leap into fashion, and Mark & Estel are reason number one for that viewpoint. Even Victoria Beckham’s brand of mom wear with its roomy hips and playground safe silhouettes has never done especially well, and Kanye’s own daughter yelled and screamed through his show last night while Anna Wintour visibly cringed.
Mark & Estel are different, though. At least Kanye and Beckham are successful musicians. These two are legends in their own mind. That they somehow have managed to find the funding to show here in New York for 16 straight seasons is nothing short of mind-boggling. This may well be the only show all season where there are more than a few empty seats, as close as the third row, when the show started.
I will give them a touch, just a touch, of credit this season in that they did keep a reasonable black and white theme going throughout the collection. That’s a first, at least in recent memory, for a line that is normally so discombobulated as to have no discernable direction or reasoning at all. The initial black cape was almost impressive; I mean Phantom of the Opera level of impressive. If only it came with a mask rather than the skin tight red plaid jumper shown. If one picks carefully through this set, there are, as always, a few pieces that seem well thought out, decently stitched together, and probably worth wearing. One has to be particular, though.
For example, the white satin pleated micro mini skirt is absolutely laughable. One cannot bend over, sit down, twist, shake, or suffer the slightest breeze in that thing. I would say be sure to wear your knickers with it, but the knickers would probably show beneath it. The skirt really is that short. Then, there was the dress whose back stitching was either never quite finished or done so poorly as to leave white lining all too visible. Several dresses with long, flowing skirts to them were cut so high right up the center as to demand matching underwear; not exactly a seasonally appropriate approach. But then, I’m not sure this duo ever really knows what season it is anyway.
I get that this is allegedly a “rock and roll” line, rebellious in nature and defiant in spirit. I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is that this is fundamentally bad fashion, yet it keeps coming back season after season. Mark & Estel have managed to build enough of a fan base, or perhaps it is more of a cult gathering, to keep them financially solvent.
Of course, as always, the pair ended the show by coming out and “performing” their soundtrack, “Stairway to the Stars.” As if Estel’s voice wasn’t enough to make the cat cough up a hairball (no, I”m not kidding, the cat convulsed), Mark attempted to rap. That’s right, a slightly rotund, middle-aged white guy with a receding hairline rapping. My dear fiancè was throwing things across the room, begging me to turn off the noise. When Mark told the crowd, “You all are fashion rock stars. You already look perfect,” I lost any sense of decorum and laughed out loud. Hard.
I’ll admit I am attracted to disaster. I claim that trait as a hazard of the profession. NYFW has no greater disaster, scheduled and served up with seasonal regularity, than Mark & Estel. With all the changes happening to NYFW next season, there’s always the chance that this is the last hurrah for the tone-deaf duo. Lincoln Centre won’t be available in September, so finding exhibit space could be challenging. Yet, something tells me they’ll be back. Somehow. Some way. God save us all.