Jacobs, Marc

▪ 2004

      American star designer Marc Jacobs, known for his sartorial fashion interpretations of trends in contemporary art, modeling, and the rock music scene, teamed up with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to produce the accessories for the spring–summer 2003 collection of Louis Vuitton, the French luxury-goods house for which Jacobs had served as artistic director in Paris since 1998. Together with Murakami, Jacobs produced “eye love,” a collection of handbags that merged Vuitton's traditional monogrammatic canvas—its beige and brown motif that included shapes of diamonds, stars, and flowers along with the company's initials, LV—with Murakami's modern, colourful pop-art graphics. The “eye love” handbags became instant collector's items.

      Meanwhile, the advertising for Jacobs's own spring–summer 2003 collection grabbed headlines. Actress Winona Ryder, who in 2002 was discovered shoplifting several clothing items—including Jacobs's designs—at a Saks Fifth Avenue department store in Beverly Hills, Calif., was his featured model. For his autumn–winter 2003 advertising campaign for Louis Vuitton, Jacobs engaged high-profile actress and musician Jennifer Lopez as his model.

      Jacobs's flair for merging fashion with the worlds of entertainment and mixed media came naturally—he was the son of two William Morris talent agents. He was born on April 9, 1963, in New York City. After graduating (1984) from the Parsons School of Design, Jacobs sold a collection of hand-knit sweaters to Charivari, the chic boutique where he worked. His 1986 debut collection received wide critical acclaim, and a year later he became the youngest recipient of the Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent, bestowed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Predating the supermodel era, Jacobs later produced a collection inspired by the individual fashion flair of his models. Though it was a critical hit, his work was not successful on the retail front. He ceased producing clothes under his own name, and in 1989 he and Robert Duffy were appointed as a team to revive the Perry Ellis fashion label. There in 1992 Jacobs produced clothing that inspired the Seattle, Wash., grunge music scene. The collection featured prominently on the pages of Harper's Bazaar and American Vogue, and Women's Wear Daily dubbed Jacobs the “guru of grunge.” When the designs failed to sell briskly, though, his contract was terminated by Perry Ellis. In 1994, however, Jacobs and Duffy relaunched the Marc Jacobs line, and with the help of supermodel friends Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista, his work again gained currency. In 1998 he signed a business deal with Bernard Arnault, the chairman of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. Jacobs became artistic director of Louis Vuitton, and LVMH acquired a one-third financial stake in his eponymous line. LVMH's backing enabled the designer to thrive. By 2003 the Marc Jacobs mini fashion empire included four retail boutiques in the U.S., a complete menswear and women's wear line (which both incorporated Marc, the designer's popular diffusion label), shoes, handbags, and two fragrances.

Bronwyn Cosgrave

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Universalium. 2010.

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