Tonight’s Marc Jacobs show was a comeback of multiple kinds. Jacobs hasn’t shown a collection since his spellbinding fall 2020 presentation circa February of last year, choreographed by Karole Armitage and starring a corps of professional dancers backing up the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid. Most of us in the audience hadn’t been to a proper show in almost as long. COVID ground the runway show system here in New York to a halt, though we’ve consumed countless hours watching digital shows on little screens.

Stepping inside Jacobs’s New York Public Library venue, the collective sense of joy was apparent. Smiles and hugs and even kisses were exchanged. To RSVP we had to provide proof of vaccination.

In the 16 months since the pandemic hit, that fall 2020 Jacobs runway took on special resonance. To stumble upon an iPhone movie from the show during lockdown was to gasp in disbelief—the dancers vamped and vogued in between the little cafe tables, close enough to feel the rush of their breath and body heat. Fashion, in the meantime, got really, really comfortable, before it coalesced around retro notions of glamour for a redux Roaring Twenties. Bigger picture, as major world events tend to do, the pandemic helped define a new generation. If the look of Gen Z was blurry pre-COVID, it now feels codified : gender-irreverent, body positive, vintage-loving, thrown-together. To this Gen X-er, it looks free.

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