“R

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Thenews -

eal fash­ion is some­thing you don’t need, it’s some­thing you want,” Marc Ja­cobs says to me over the phone one balmy day in June. The de­signer, whom I’ve known since the 1980s, is dis­cussing his style ethos. He’s calling from his New York head­quar­ters in SoHo and sounds very dif­fer­ent from the Marc I first met some 30 years ago, when Bet­sey John­son asked both of us to model in one of her shows in ex­change for a hun­dred-dol­lar store credit. We had walked the run­way to­gether in match­ing sailorin­spired out­fits, slightly mis­er­able, and even though we had never met, trudged out link­ing arms ei­ther in af­fec­tion or to keep each other up­right.

Over the years our paths crossed many times—at var­i­ous dinners, in res­tau­rants or clubs, the way things, for a long time, hap­pened in the city. At all those “scenes” at Mr. Chow and In­do­chine, where ev­ery­one was ta­ble-hop­ping and up late, we’d bump into each other. Go­ing out was the norm back then, and our seem­ingly glam­orous jobs gave us an all-ac­cess pass: mine as a writer and his as a prodigy in the fash­ion world. I didn’t wholly fol­low his ca­reer but know of the high­lights: the sem­i­nal “grunge col­lec­tion” for Perry El­lis in 1992; his me­te­oric rise at Louis Vuit­ton; and his name­sake line, which is al­ways a vis­ual feast, stem­ming from a smor­gas­bord of sar­to­rial ref­er­ences. One day, in 2012, I saw re­mark­able ads, shot by Juer­gen Teller, of mod­els in vaguely late ’20s and ’30s out­fits, trav­el­ling in frock coats and dusters in beau­ti­ful colours and wear­ing the most ex­tra­or­di­nary hats by Stephen Jones. The clothes were new and nostalgic and in some ob­scure way ab­so­lutely bonkers—they looked like they be­longed in the Mad Hat­ter’s tea party. I was hooked.

The clothes, im­pos­si­bly right in their wrong­ness; magic cre­ated. Though he’s guile­less, talk­a­tive, and en­thu­si­as­tic, he can’t re­ally say what makes his fash­ion work. “It’s all about cre­ative choice,” he says of the process, “mak­ing sketches, fit­tings, col­lag­ing—how­ever it hap­pens to get to the end re­sult. Some­times I sit with a shoe, or look at a sil­hou­ette. Some­times the de­sign team in­spires me and brings in things. I think, ‘Oh, I’d like to use this.’ Other times, I don’t know what I want. It’s kind of the same sen­si­bil­ity that Andy Warhol had. He was in­ter­ested in ev­ery­thing and soaked up what he saw like a sponge.”

He tells me that his Au­tumn/Win­ter ’16 col­lec­tion, with its Vic­to­rian-goth vibe and over­size pro­por­tions, was the in­verse of the span­gled Amer­i­cana show that he’d pre­sented the sea­son be­fore. “When I fin­ished the spring show, for the next one I said, ‘Let’s start with the same look, only take all colour out of it and make it a gothic ver­sion of the spring show, just to be con­trary.’ So we started with the first look, took all colour out of it, and changed pro­por­tions. But the print I had de­vel­oped for spring, I wanted to work with some­one to cre­ate an im­age for print and pat­terns. I was look­ing at a paint­ing by Tab­boo! and said, ‘Oh, let’s get in touch with him and see if he wants to do some­thing with us.’”

The artist and ’80s drag per­former Tab­boo! (aka Stephen Tashjian) heeded Ja­cobs’s call. At their first meet­ing, he showed his draw­ings and posters dat­ing back to the Pyra­mid Club era. Tab­boo! had ar­rived in New York around that time, right out of art school in Bos­ton, found a cheap East Vil­lage ten­e­ment loft, and started per­form­ing, in drag, at var­i­ous clubs and mak­ing art. All too often, tal­ented peo­ple ar­rive in the city and spend a life here mak­ing and creat­ing but for the most part never re­ceive recog­ni­tion or fi­nan­cial re­wards. For Tab­boo!, be­ing “dis­cov­ered” by Marc has been, to say the least, trans­for­ma­tive. “Work­ing with Marc has been an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says. “It’s lux­ury fash­ion. It’s been com­pletely out of my com­fort zone. It was just thrilling.”

“I showed him things that in­ter­ested me,” Marc says. “Gothic but not re­ally, dark but not re­ally. Tab­boo! painted a crow, a black cat—sweet ver­sions of dark icons. Each day, he’d come in and I’d say, ‘That’s re­ally great, but I was think­ing about this cape with swirls and jet bead­ing.’”

“I couldn’t be­lieve it,” says the artist. “A cape! No one was do­ing that. But it wasn’t just that he took my draw­ings and printed them on fab­ric. No, Marc had them hand-sewn, beaded, feath­ered, and em­broi­dered—in a small French ate­lier. But first, I drew the de­signs by hand on this in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive fab­ric.”

“It all felt like a con­tin­u­a­tion of spring and nostalgia for New York City, and I didn’t want to aban­don that,” ex­plains Marc. “It had the spirit I want to see in all my col­lec­tions— peo­ple I know and clas­sic things I love.”

“They told me, ‘Sub­mit a draw­ing,’” Tab­boo! says. “I was ex­pect­ing them to say, ‘Oh, can you redo it?’ But they didn’t. They said, ‘Oh, we love this! Do some more.’” The re­sult­ing il­lus­tra­tions swirled around coats, bags, shoes, and even a T-shirt of a black cat, roughly 13 pieces in all that served as the cen­tre­piece of the col­lec­tion.

This gen­uine ac­cep­tance of one artist’s work for an­other is spe­cial and ex­tremely un­usual. De­spite the con­stant travel and cre­ativ­ity that seem­ingly puts Marc on the edge of fever­ish­ness, this ca­pac­ity to col­lab­o­rate has be­come a hall­mark of his process. And it’s been to his ben­e­fit, on some spir­i­tual level, per­haps.

And for me, I’ve come full cir­cle, find­ing fash­ion in­ter­est­ing again, thanks to Marc, his the­atri­cal pre­sen­ta­tions, and won­der­ful clothes. It makes me happy too that an orig­i­nal ta­lent in one of the most dif­fi­cult fields has—at age 53—not only sur­vived through the ups and downs but also suc­ceeded with­out com­pro­mis­ing. How far we’ve come.

A por­trait of the de­signer, with make-up by Tab­boo!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.