With his brilliant transformation of Louis Vuitton, soon to be celebrated in a major exhibition, Marc Jacobs is at the top of his game. Jonathan Van Meter goes behind the scenes with fashion’s biggest rock star.
It’s mid-afternoon on a bizarrely hot, humid day in Paris in early October, and Marc Jacobs, in a black T-shirt and long shorts that can only be described as a cross between jodhpurs and harem pants, is sitting at a worktable in his atelier at Louis Vuitton headquarters on rue du Pont-Neuf. A Spice Girls hit from the nineties is blaring over the sound system. It’s just 36 hours before his Vuitton ready-to-wear show, and despite the fact that he is exhausted and claims he is “not going to make much sense today,” he is as engaging-and drolly opinionated-as ever.
Three weeks ago, in New York, I watched him do this very same thing-which is to say, execute with fussy precision 40-some fittings on 40-some cranky models well into the night for a show that was imminent. There he pranced around on the balls of his feet like Mick Jagger in his prime, wearing white jazz shoes and black dance tights that showed off his impressively muscular 48-year-old physique. Today, perhaps in a capitulation to the fact that he is human after all, he mostly stays seated and rolls around the room in an office chair with wheels. Watch Marc Jacobs as he zooms over to his ashtray for a drag on a perpetually lit cigarette and then zips back to a long worktable covered in fantastical pairs of heels and then rolllls back for another drag, then glides over to rows and rows of newly stitched Vuitton Speedy bags, like so many freshly painted Easter eggs.
No designer has a longer slog through the fashion season than Marc Jacobs, a punishing weeks-long period during which he appears to survive on caffeine, nicotine, and the fumes of a mania that comes from little to no sleep. Traditionally, he kicks off the fall shows in New York in early September with his spring ready-to-wear collection at the Lexington Avenue armory; a month later, he closes Paris Fashion Week with his collection for Vuitton at the Louvre’s Cour Carrée. The fact that both are the most anticipated-and lately, the most elaborately staged-shows every season only serves to ratchet up the pressure for the Little Big Man who seems somehow to embody all that is crazy and great about fashion in this strange new century.
The sound track moves through Kate Bush, Rihanna, the 1980 Visage song “Fade to Grey” as the model Kinga Rajzak gets fitted. She walks for Jacobs, and he says, “You are so pretty, Kinga.” She stops and smiles and then twirls in her pale-blue feathered skirt. “This is so pretty,” she says with a wanting in her eye that reminds you why a certain kind of girl goes gaga for everything Jacobs does. Assistants wearing white cotton gloves scamper about with white canvas bags and whitewashed crocodile purses and white-on-white monogrammed leather carryalls, all of them with sterling-silver hardware-the first time Jacobs has replaced the house’s traditional gold. A young, nervous-looking fellow appears in front of Jacobs holding a piece of fabric. They speak to each other in French (”I am not sure you will get a pant out of that fabric,” says Jacobs, switching to English). When did you learn to speak French? “I never studied it,” says Jacobs, who has been living half the year in Paris since he started at Vuitton in 1997. “I have a very small vocabulary, mostly fashion words, and I don’t know how to conjugate verbs, so everything is in the present tense.” He laughs. “As it should be!” (…) Read the Article on Vogue American
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