Inventive and haunting, few designers have had such extreme ups and downs as Marc Jacobs.
This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of his infamous “grunge” collection for Perry Ellis. The daring display got the young designer dismissed from the label. Imagine sending your disastrous masterpiece to the two people who you’d think would understand — in this case, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love — only to have them burn it? That’s what Jacobs did and that’s what happened.
Compare that low point to the opening of Jacobs’ first store on SoHo’s Mercer Street in 1997, when Julia Roberts was his first customer. There’s a fighting spirit to what Jacobs does and it certainly translates to his clothing. But interpretation beyond that is a bit of a challenge, as Jacobs himself attests.
“I guess when I look over my shoulder at other designers, I feel like people are so definitive,” Jacobs is quoted as saying. “It’s so clear to me what their aesthetic is, what they’re projecting. And I look at my own work and I think, Who could ever decipher what the hell is going on?”
Interpretation aside, each collection is aimed at evoking an emotional response, and it’s uncommon that they don’t succeed. It should be no surprise, therefore, that his high profile customers include Lady Gaga and, coming full circle, Frances Bean Cobain. How’s that for cosmic justice? — jas