Why did Marc Jacobs send Lily McMenamy topless on Fall 2013 runway?

marc jacobs lily mcmenamy topless fall 2013 runway new york fashion week


[I] slept cozy and comfortable in my bed in India, as Marc Jacobs defined  glamour, chic and comfort yesterday in New York. And even as I woke up, I was unaware that I missed a fashion moment. It was not until a dear friend of mine, not related to a fashion profession, informed me that Marc Jacobs sent a topless model down the runway. It was in the papers here, so it must have meant something I suppose.

I perused from window to window in my browser to inform myself on what the industry was saying about it. Turned out they only cared about who it was – Lily McMenamy, the daughter of supermodel Kristen McMenamy, and how already it was her most memorable walk yet. She is only 18 by the way and this was her third runway show, and she is already the most social media’ed model from yesterday – the closing of NYFW.

I also read all the reviews at WWD, style.com, Fashion Bomb Daily, Vogue, Fashionolgie. But not one critic mentioned the topless model. They only ventured deep within the moods of the show. The walking of the runway twice by all the models, once in the sepia light of a giant sun and second time in normal light, was the highlight of their reviews. Yes they did talk about the glamour, the pyjamas the rich but classic textures, all those sequins which I noticed and loved too at first sight. But my friend did not bother about those clothes or the Olafur Eliasson’s “The Weather Project” inspired sun or how Hurricane Sandy had a hand in the collection. He wondered and asked why the ‘no top’ look?  I was silent because I did not have a ready plausible answer. But thinking and reading through the day I reached an open ended question. After all it is tough, at least for me right now, to explain sanely why fashion is the way it is to a person not from the field. And majority of the world is just not, even though they are impacted by it each day.

marc jacobs fall 2013 new york fashion week sun1

marc jacobs sends lily mcmenamy topless fall 2013 runway only hot pants and gloves to cover

Now that you are here, and reading this article, you must have noticed the feature image for this one on the home page. It really made you click on it didn’t it? In all my honesty that was the whole purpose really. This is not a majorly famous blog. Actually who am I kidding, I only have a two digit number page hits and readers each day. But still I felt the need to engage those few. For a famous blog/ designer or any one else, the pressure of engagement must be countless times more.

 Now put Marc Jacobs in the picture, the one who is a revered talent and legend in the industry. When he was freshly appointed the creative head of Louis Vuitton in 1997 (yes that long time ago!), the pressure on him increased and he spiraled into heavy drug abuse. He recovered, but I wonder what the pressure is like, right now. Each season his visions are looked forward to and his shows are often termed the biggest. In the past, he has staged a show sending looks in the reverse order (Spring 2008), has sent Kate Moss smoking on the runway (Louis Vuitton Fall 2011), used a marching band for his show (Spring 2006) and again for LV last season ( Spring 2013) used escalators as an entry to the runway for models and a very vivid twin imagery. So I hope by this you get and idea of the grandiose feeling that is expected from Marc Jacobs. It is a different grandiose than Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, but a very own grandiose nonetheless.

The set with the sun and the model too, giving NYFW its moment this season, was part of that very magnificence that has become Marc Jacobs.  It is rooted in creativity but made him the talk of the town ( and twitter and Facebook and instagram) too, so much so that a regular person even unaware of the commencement of NYFW knew what he had done. Quite a feat! Even if it was a late one, as the show was postponed from Monday night to Thursday.

But then again, being partial to his talents as I am, I can not gulp down the fact that it was a mere stunt. As I delved further, the famous Victoria Beckham 2008 ad, with only her legs and the ‘upside down’ pumps showing through a Marc Jacobs shopping bag, came into the picture. Shot by Juergen Teller, as many Marc Jacobs ads are, Victoria was told  “And fashion nowadays is all about product — bags and shoes — and you’re kind of a product yourself, aren’t you?’ She was, like, ‘Uh, yeah.’ ”  In a video for German Interview talking about the collaboration over a book with Cindy Sherman and Juergen, with the advertisements bearing MARC JACOBS name on it he reveals “We didn’t sell anything, nobody would look at those ads and say I want to look like that, no one would not run to the store to buy the dress, the sweater, the shoes or anything, because of the way these people looked”. Ditto feeling for the ad campaign which had Juergen hugging Charlotte Rampling in bed in his silver shorts.

marc jacobs victoria beckham 2008 advertisement lily mc menamy topless fall 2013

marc jacobs Juergen telle cindy sherman charlotte rampling lily mcmenamy topless fall 2013 runway new york fashion week

To me it sends out a message or understanding rather, that Marc Jacobs is not always looking to sell clothes. He is a man who believes in imagery too, beyond  the obvious products. Marc Jacobs is sort of a club, you have to be in to understand it. Faith at Fashion Bomb Daily noted in her review “There’s no way to deny the easy glamour of the season’s pieces, which appear as if a socialite just rolled out of bed”. Did she actually get it right in one sentence? Lily McMenamy actually personified the aesthetic sentiment of a coveted chic diva rolling out of bed in here last night’s clothes after partying dizzy? With his Look number 21, did Marc Jacobs only mean to put that “creative vision” out there. Since obviously, there was nothing to sell in that look as such in real world terms.

I rest my case, but ask you the question….. was is it just a stunt or a creative vision indeed?






  1. I don’t know … is it still a big deal? To me, ever since Rudi Gernreich (1963, was it?) it’s “been done” …

    Kate Moss was mentioned. And she is one that has been out there on the catwalk without the benefit of coverup clothing (or, for that matter, even a spare arm to maintain what some would call her “decency” – although, what is so indecent about the lady’s body?)

    Other models … I have suspected Naomi Campbell for many years now of putting it into her contracts that she won’t do a show if she doesn’t get to expose at least one nipple …

  2. I can just see the scene – lily is about to put on her blazer and he sees here, says “Stop! Hold it! You look incredibly stylish that way! Go out like this – and upon second thought, people will see my shorts, too, this way.”

    And he is right. She looks absolutely stunning, even incompletely dressed by most standards.

    It proves a point someone once made: There is nothing you can put on the female body that can improve on what’s already there (and I have to admit, that goes for a few male bodies, too …)

  3. Love this review on the Jacobs show. I often feel like he is over rated but this review did a great job at articulating all of the aspects of Marc Jacobs in his campaigns and clothing lines. Although I feel like sending the model down the runway topless is pointless it does coincide well with the collections theme.

  4. I think that it was definitely a creative vision. But I also think that they knew it would cause controversy.


    • Agreed, a calculated creative vision it could be. Also read your take on this on your blog about Lily’s age. A valid question, but the division between adults and young-adults is increasingly blurring now !

  5. Such and interesting post! With all the shenanigans surrounding fashion week, i’m sure it’s easy for and “outsider” to assume that many things are stunts, but I honestly don’t think this was. And let’s face it: at this point Marc Jacobs has some preeeetty hefty poetic license. All of his looks are very simple. Some of the other girls in the show appeared as if they were only wearing blazers and no pants (although they had on micro hot pants). If part of the whole point of the show was simplicity and comfort after the storm, this statement makes sense to me. It’s calm, it’s not complicated, it’s comfortable.

    • Oh yes ! The other models appeared ‘pant-less’. In all the delving deep, I did fail to put that across. Thank you so much for adding this :) And yes fashion week is sometimes difficult to understand in its true sense even for an insider, for an outsider its easy to form quick conclusions.

  6. Well I think that the runway is somewhere where inhibitions shouldn’t hold art back, but only if it has a proper point to it. I’m not sure what he was going for really, other than, I suppose, creating a media hype around his show (and clearly it’s working or I wouldn’t be writing this comment). As to the age, well I still haven’t decided my stance on that issue fully, but thanks for your great comment on my post about fetishising youth in fashion! It’s definitely something which we should be talking about openly in fashion I think and thinking about where to draw the line.

    • That is the whole thing, having a point. Maybe such a discussion ( like my article) can never be done over Hussein Chalayan’s work. And fetishising youth in fashion too is seen as art by some. But then again… where is the point? Specially for that, the line should not blur and be clear, since a topless model is not as disturbing as a mini adult.

      Thanks for stopping by Alys ! :)

  7. Fashion designers love to create controversial looks, not only do they excite the audience it gets people and media humming about the brand.
    Thank you so much for redirecting me to your post it was great! I’m so glad I found your blog, your writings are insightful and great to read, following via all the links I could find!
    The blogs name was more of musing, it was meant to define my passion for where I come from in a quirky way. I have a longer story here -> http://anarkalilovesme.blogspot.ca/2012/06/blog-rebirth-anarkali-loves-me.html about it if you want to no more =)
    Stay in touch!

    • Thank you so much Ahmad. Your appreciation really made my day ! And yes I think creativity and good design is one thing, but in today’s world If you are not talked about in the media, it renders useless after a point !


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