"EVERYONE IS A CRITIC"
On the topic of social media, Jacobs admits he was late getting into the game. He fi nds it inspiring to see what people share and he appreciates being able to connect with people who are distant. However, he does take a fi rm view that social media cannot govern all personal awareness. Social media can also be a mega-platform where “everyone's a critic” – but are the masses truly informed enough to do so? Jacobs is divided on this “negative criticism”; he values the space to speak one's truth and have an opinion, but feels it should be with a consciousness to the damage that can be done. (On a side note, his Instagram handle is @themarcjacobs and I would highly suggest looking up a video of Jacobs and Defrancesco in panda suits on one of their rare excursions in Shanghai. You can thank me later.)
Jacobs doesn't shop online. I feel silly immediately after asking him this – well, obviously, he doesn't; he's Marc Jacobs! But he does love going shopping, trying on clothes, being surprised by pieces and discovering new things. He loves that experience of getting dressed and the impulse of needing something. I'm familiar with this feeling that's prevalent among other fashion heavyweights; it's a love for fashion in the purest sense. It isn't about owning something for vanity or to be relevant. It's about a deep appreciation for beautiful things and style. “How do we explain this love, which is like oxygen, to a non-fashion-interested person?” I ask. “I'm not sure I would ask a sports person why they're into sports,” says Jacobs. “For me, I have always loved entertainment. I remember growing up in New York and I would be so fascinated by these characters who created this imagery and persona through style. They would create an identity through clothes. I love this approach. I feel like it's your movie – you're the star and the costume designer.”
One tip in case the occasion of meeting Jacobs arises: don't ask him about the inspiration for his latest collection. He doesn't like explaining this. I get the impression that doing the show notes are one of his least favourite things to do. It's a long, exhausting process to create a collection and orchestrate a show – and then to have to sit down and wrap everything that has come from the heart, the mind, the body and the soul into a neat little paragraph, especially one that may be interpreted wrong or not sit well with a critic? How does someone sum themselves up in a paragraph? Do we ask too much from our creative souls? Is it not enough that they wander the vast terrain of their minds to fi nd inspiration and to create beauty – do they also have to articulate it into words for people to understand?
Interestingly enough, at the autumn/winter 2018 show in February, Jacobs's show notes focused on the value of the make-up. I ask him if this was a business decision and the answer is no – he says it just felt right. Jacobs has been working with Diane Kendal since
2013 on the show make-up looks as well as on the beauty line. What is Jacobs drawn to, in terms of beauty? He references Diana Vreeland in the way that he fi nds character beautiful. It's not about perfection; he loves risk-takers. Beauty, to Jacobs, doesn't have rules – and this is the philosophy of the make-up line. It's based on differences and an individual point of view. “Make-up is make-up,” he explains. “It's what people do with it that is fun.”
At New York Fashion Week, tradition dictates that Marc Jacobs is the fi nale show, held at The Armoury. I had the joy of attending in February; it started punctually, despite the massive PETA protest in front, which didn't deter the top brass of fashion and culture in attendance. (Incidentally, there was no real fur in the collection.) To paint a picture, in the front row were Cardi B, Carine Roitfeld, Anna Wintour, Stuart Vevers, Sidney Toledano and Susie Bubble.
According to the designer, the Marc Jacobs show is about a moment of theatre that should transport the audience to another place – a magical place. Jacobs wants his audience to detach from the everyday negativity and the mundane, and last February, he didn't disappoint. The dark hall was quiet enough to hear the footsteps of the models on the wooden-plank floor. This is the magic of
Marc Jacobs. It had been a long, exhausting week chock full of shows, presentations, re-sees, appointments and promotional events, not to mention the jet lag – but he energised the entire hall.
Having been at a lucrative brand before, where we had to dream up and produce 18 collections a year in various categories, and seeing how busy the creative director was then, I can't even imagine what it was like for Jacobs when he was simultaneously doing Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs and the Louis Vuitton collections. He has been in the business since 1984. My mind boggles at how many collections and shows he has created – his universal lifetime achievement award must be making an appearance any day now. I also get the feeling he's aware of every criticism he has ever experienced, which makes me wonder: do we take the beauty that these creative spirits give us for granted? Do we just take, take, take as consumers, as industries, culturally? What do we do to nurture our talent when there are so few who can give us this emotion, these moments in our everyday lives when we feel relevant and confident to exist socially?
Jacobs grew up drawing and he still does it, on paper. He's the ultimate student of fashion. When I ask him about advice for aspiring designers, he quotes Gabrielle Chanel: “Originality has no memory.” I know that this is my fi rst time meeting Jacobs, but seeing him with Defrancesco, I get the sense that he's living his best years, having fun and laughing a lot. It's a big, colourful, glamorous life – just like his clothes.