WHAT’S NEXT FOR MARC JA­COBS?

Af­ter 16 years at iconic French la­bel Louis Vuit­ton, the de­signer is turn­ing his at­ten­tion home­ward.

Harper's Bazaar (India) - - BAZAARSTYLE - By Amy Larocca

It’s a big mo­ment for Marc Ja­cobs, but it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber, when eval­u­at­ing, an­tic­i­pat­ing, and dream­ing of his next steps, that this is a man who has never, ever been stag­nant. He’s a mas­ter of change, the ul­ti­mate trans­former. The an­nounce­ment in Oc­to­ber dur­ing Paris Fash­ion Week that he’d be re­sign­ing his post as the artis­tic di­rec­tor of Louis Vuit­ton af­ter 16 earth-rock­ing, game-chang­ing years is the next piece in a con­tin­uum of brav­ery, sur­prise, and cre­ativ­ity of nearly un­fath­omable depth.

Let’s start with the Stephen Sprouse bags: We are so fa­mil­iar with them now, but when they de­buted in 2000, to mess with some­thing as iconic as the LV mono­gram was unimag­in­able. Yet there they were, com­ing down the run­way, and the lux­ury goods mar­ket was for­ever changed—the army green let­ters on the brown leather a form of cam­ou­flage graf­fiti that was in­stantly cov­etable, beau­ti­ful, and ex­cit­ing. Ja­cobs went on to merge art and fash­ion in ways pre­vi­ously un­think­able (col­lab­o­ra­tions with artists like Richard Prince, Takashi Mu­rakami, and Yayoi Kusama) to el­e­vate the idea of the must-have It thing while si­mul­ta­ne­ously de­vel­op­ing a ready-to-wear line with an iden­tity and a tex­ture of its own, pretty much from scratch.

And then, of course, there was the dras­tic trans­for­ma­tion of self that oc­curred over th­ese same years. When Ja­cobs be­gan work­ing at Vuit­ton, he was stylish but pudgy, with stringy hair, thick glasses, and shape­less sweaters. He also had a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem with drugs and al­co­hol, but with the sup­port of his busi­ness part­ners and friends, he tri­umphed over th­ese de­mons while scarcely miss­ing a cre­ative beat. The only vices that re­main are caf­feine and cig­a­rettes: Ja­cobs is oth­er­wise a re­mark­able phys­i­cal spec­i­men—the gym in­car­nate—all mus­cle and chisel and trim lit­tle suits and calf-bar­ing kilts and jazzy Cuban heels and, yes, one very fa­mous lace dress by Comme des Garçons.

I, for one, al­ways won­dered whether such an ex­treme change in life­style and self-pre­sen­ta­tion would al­ter his work. He had of­ten said that he found in­spi­ra­tion in his own dis­com­fort, a beauty in awk­ward­ness. But he only grew more in­ter­est­ing, draw­ing from an ex­tra­or­di­nary pas­tiche of ideas and emo­tions to cre­ate col­lec­tion upon col­lec­tion that for­ever changed the con­ver­sa­tion and the game.

A ma­jor change in fash­ion since 1997 has been the rise of the su­per-de­signer, the in­ter­na­tional, globe-trot­ting col­lec­tion ma­chine who spits out look upon look, fra­grance af­ter lip­stick af­ter small leather good. The su­per-de­signer has the abil­ity to move be­tween con­ti­nents and sea­sons al­most in de­fi­ance of physics. We have seen the tragic re­sults of such pres­sures, the huge po­ten­tial for burnout, and it was easy to worry about Ja­cobs in such a con­text. But if the work ex­hausted him, which surely it must have, once again it didn’t dampen his out­put.

So now he has left Vuit­ton, and pre­sum­ably he will leave Paris to come home to New York, the city of his youth and of so much of his iden­tity. The city that gave him the Mudd Club and the pretty girls of SoHo in their ex­pen­sive cashmere that was “a lit­tle fucked-up”.

For years Ja­cobs lived in a beau­ti­ful apart­ment on the Champ de Mars, and when he was in New York he stayed at the Mercer Ho­tel. But now, fol­low­ing a year-long ex­ile from his West Vil­lage town house due to dam­age from Hur­ri­cane Sandy, he is fi­nally back home, with a roof deck where he re­laxes with friends and watches the sun set over the har­bour. He’s step­ping back from de­sign re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at Marc by Marc Ja­cobs—the bet­ter to fo­cus on de­sign­ing his main line and his IPO—and he’s sin­gle right now, hav­ing re­cently (am­i­ca­bly!) split with a boyfriend. He’s open to all pos­si­bil­i­ties ev­ery­where.

It’s not the change that’s new for him, it’s the time. For the first time in years, he’ll have some. It bog­gles the mind to think what he might do with it.

Edie Camp­bell at Marc Ja­cobs’s fi­nal show for Louis Vuitton

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