For his secondary line, Marc by Marc Jacobs, the designer habitually—and joyfully—recalls a time and a place most people are glad to forget: the hallways of Public High School U.S.A., circa 1979. Some seasons he re-thinks the clean-cut preppy set, while other times he zeroes in on the social fringe. For Spring 2004 he conjured tough boys and bad girls, the kind who get suspended for smoking and who put together their wardrobes from the army-navy store and the bins at Goodwill.

To a headbanging soundtrack (with the volume turned up to 11), Jacobs sent a torrent of punked-out girls and guys racing down the runway in his trademark, casually assembled collages. The first look included satin hot pants, layered T-shirts, a big canvas ballet bag, a trailing scarf, and a pair of sparkly combat boots. In contrast to the controlled palette and minimal adornment of his main line, Jacobs let loose here, mixing blue, pink, green, orange, black, and gold in a single outfit, and piling on scarves, bags, silkscreen patterns, embroidery, and lots of tiny pins. Under his masterful direction, it all looked cooler than cool. More importantly, his signature combinations included plenty of great pieces for grownups: slouchy cotton twill trousers, pretty floral dresses, skimpy ribbed T-shirts to wear under an artfully beat-up denim or corduroy jacket. But as fertile an inspiration as high school clearly is, wouldn’t it be nice to see what Marc would look like if it grew up and went to college?