"EVERY­ONE IS A CRITIC"

#Legend - - FAME -

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.

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