Are all of fashion’s best and craziest ideas coming from suits? Just look at Marc Jacobs, who took home the MTV VMA’s first Fashion Trailblazer Award on Monday night in customarily high style: a sage green suit with swooping shoulders by the Savile Row tailors Huntsman, which has a New York outpost, and Wizard of Oz-inspired sparkling red heels—by Prada, baby! His vintage Cartier cufflinks also had a cool connection to the Italian house of cerebral garmenthood: they were a gift from Mrs. Miuccia Prada herself.
Because he’s Marc Jacobs, though, his was not your banker bro’s Savile Row getup. The bespoke design featured flared trousers and pagoda shoulders—the silhouette a nod, it seems, to the visionary mod designer Pierre Cardin, one of the most innovative tailors of the second half of the 20th century. Cardin (who is now 96—a living legend!) was a fanatic of East Asian dress and a global citizen of the jet-set era; in fact, he was one of the first Western designers to show in China, staging a series of five runway shows there in 1979. In addition to creating the high-armholed Mao jacket that The Beatles made famous in the mid-’60s, Cardin spent the late ’70s and ’80s going big on the pagoda shoulder, in which the shoulder line swoops up some three inches, inspired by the cornice of the Chinese towers from which it takes its name. Cardin’s China shows in the late ’70s heavily featured the style, a Washington Post report from the trip recounts. The designer also often wore the style himself.
This isn’t the first time that Jacobs has revived the pagoda shoulder. Two of his other Huntsman suits—a velvet tuxedo worn to the Met Gala back in May, and a black three-piece suit for his wedding to Char Defrancesco in early April—also have a pagoda shoulder. (Jacobs’s tailor there, Ralph Fitzgerald, did not respond to a request for comment.) This isn’t just a matter of personal preference—or if it is, Jacobs’s preferences carry a little more weight than yours or mine.
Because Jacobs is as much a reverent historian and archivist of fashion as he is a designer; he wears Gucci, Balenciaga, and Chanel with the reverence that Lee Radziwill wore Givenchy couture. (In other words, like a god-level stylish collector. One of the most fun rumors making its way through New York is that Jacobs is one of Balenciaga’s biggest customers. Is he building an archive? We can all dream.) Jacobs has also injected his adoration for the ’80s tailoring and color palettes of designers like Claude Montana and Yves Saint Laurent into his own collections, which have given them an invigorating new sense of volume and boldness. A rep for Jacobs confirmed that the design team has a number of Cardin pieces in their archive. Trend-driven tailoring has been making a major comeback on the men’s runways of Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, and Alyx, as well, with novel suit silhouettes and styles giving men lots of options to look fancy and polished. Jacobs, in his runway output and wardrobe, seems to be on board, too.
Originally Appeared on GQ