Marc Jacobs is timely. Continuing his ongoing war with the fashion press and the clock, Mr. Jacobs started his eighties-esque Fall ‘09 collection show on Monday precisely at 8 pm, which is the time it was scheduled for.

MJFW092_CV_20090216215651.jpgKurt Wilberding for The Wall Street Journal

So at least 20 percent of the hottest seats in New York fashion were empty, their possessors not having yet made it into the venue from their last appointment uptown in a long day of shows. What might have looked like punctuality was really a big wet raspberry to the audience – the third such payback for complaints 18 months ago that he was habitually, painfully late with his shows. Vogue editor Anna Wintour must have had an inkling … or a heads up: she arrived at 20 minutes before the hour.

This was all the more noticeable because Mr. Jacobs had hacked his normal stadium-sized guest list in half. Gone were the partiers in drag, the celebrities and their entourages and paparazzi, and the whole sense of mayhem that is typical for the brand. Instead, the show was dark, sedate, and un-wild.

Except for the clothes.

The collection, for those who made it there in time to see it, was an homage to the 1980s Manhattan. “What New York used to be before it was gentrified and such a boring place to live – when artists could make a living here,” Mr. Jacob said, chatting excitedly backstage after Monday night’s show.

“When people went out clubbing,” Mr. Jacobs added, wearing a dark pleated knee-length skirt and a fine white shirt unbuttoned to his sculpted sternum.

With vividly out-of-the-tube colors, space-age metallics and huge shoulders that could blast a person to the moon, the collection harkened to David Bowie’s androgynous Major Tom years.

MJFW096_CV_20090216223021.jpgKurt Wilberding for The Wall Street Journal

There was little sense of being practical for the recession – a theme that has been apparent in other collections. And there were no nods to fashion’s new first lady, Michelle Obama. Mr. Jacobs, as usually, expects to lead the way in a direction that no one else is going. Fashions shows are intended to be fantasy. He started to bring back the 80s a year ago, and now he has taken it to the hilt.

Yet his runway was far more reflective of our culture than most: he had more models of color – including four black models – than almost any show ever employs. And the look was pure Americana.

The first look Mr. Jacobs sent down the runway was one of his softest and most wearable – a gray cardigan over lovely wool flannel pants with a surprise in back: a pleated mini-skirt like flap over the rear.

What followed were clothes for discos and late-night partying.

The shoes throughout had raised toes pointing to the heavens like many of the shoulders – in heels, boots and flats. It was a severe look, but enticing – and possibly comfortable.

The models parading through the dark room wore makeup and hairdos so harsh that one photographer shooting the show thought that some of them were men. A spokeswoman says there were no male models. It was just the severe make up. No one ever said the ‘80s were flattering.

-–Christina Binkley