Marc Jacobs in the New Yorker

The New Yorker is putting out a Style Issue this week, on newsstands today for September 1st, and they've put together a nice little issue we've had t

The New Yorker is putting out a Style Issue this week, on newsstands today for September 1st, and they've put together a nice little issue we've had the privilege to glimpse. In it, you can expect a meditation on shoes, a news piece on new ways shoplifters' are being caught, and a seven-page profile on Marc by Ariel Levy, including a picture of him in his exceptionally brief undies. Since show and tell was always our favorite part of class, we thought we'd share a few bits. Click through the jump to enjoy - it's Monday!

On the making of Daisy:

Jacobs is a human product, too, as famous for what he means as for what he does. In market research conducted for Daisy, a perfume he was introducing (named after one of his dogs), women at a mall in the Midwest were asked if they'd heard of Marc Jacobs. Many said yes, but when they were asked who he was, they often replied "a rock star" or "an actor" rather than "a fashion designer." Probably, they had noticed his name in a gossip column. They might have seen pictures of Jacobs smoking cigarettes at parties with celebrities. Or perhaps they'd just felt his potent commercial presence when they were riding a red bus down Bleecker Street.

On his look:

Jacobs smokes at the office, at the table, in his bedroom, in the car on the way to and from exercising. He smokes and smokes Marlboro lights, and he talks and talks about working out at the gym, his favorite place lately. "The gym to me is like in 'A Chorus Line' it's the ballet," he said. "Everything is beautiful at the gym, everyone looks amazing. You just think it's like one big healthy circus going on out there: the bodies are great, people are jolly, and, even when they're complaining about how strenuous it is, there's, like, a kind of very good, positive, we're-all-doing-some- thing-good-for-ourselves . . . And it's two and a half hours that I'm not smoking." He took a drag of his cigarette. "I am a true addict in that whatever makes me feel good I want more of, whether it's good for me or not." He wore a thick gold Rolex and a white shirtunbuttoned to his sternum, and he had carefully trimmed black stubble on his tan chest and his strong chin. He was sitting on one of two brown velvet settees he has in his living room, a grand space accented by a fluffy white life-size sculpture of a sheep (the work of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne) and an astounding view of the Eiffel Tower. On the coffee table were silver bowls of sweet peas and peonies and green, unripe strawberries that were so expertly arranged they looked like jade carvings. When you are in the home of Marc Jacobs, every tabletop vista of purple glass and silver objet, every clever combination of exquisite furniture and costly sculpture is so re- fined that, despite the cigarette smoke wafting through the rooms, you get the sense that you are breathing rare and expensive bottled air.

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Jacobs is well aware that he has shape-shifted from a withdrawn schlump in eye-glasses into something . . . special. "Somewhere along this nutrition-gym thing, I started to develop a sense of, I don't know, a sense of confidence," he said. For Bruce Banner, it was gamma rays; for Marc Jacobs, it was free weights. He went on, "All of a sudden, before I knew it, I started to say, Gee, I'm really happy with the work we've been doing. I'm really happy with the house I live in. I'm really happy with the way I look when I look at myself in the mirror. I spend hours in the bathroom now. I used to spend five minutes! But I like taking a shower. I like shampooing my hair. I like putting on moisturizer. I like wearing jewelry. All of these things I used to think, That's not for me. I'm on the floor picking up pins or I'm sketching all day, what does it matter what I look like? And then I discovered, you know what? It does matter. It makes me feel good. I get it! I went for a manicure and a pedicure this morning, and I understand when I look at my hands and they're not, like, scabby and bleeding--it's great!" He has made his home a museum and his body a work of art beautiful enough to reside there.

On his early life:

Superheroes tend to be orphans of sorts, and Marc Jacobs is no exception. His father, an agent at the William Morris agency in New York, died when Jacobs was seven. His mother is still alive, but he doesn't see her. "I haven't spoken to her or my sister and brother in years and years," he told me. "I never feel like it's a bad thing. I mean, my mom's very, very sick-- mentally ill. She didn't really take care of her kids." Jacobs was brought up by his paternal grandmother, in an apartment at Seventy-second Street and Central Park West. "She had a very bad rela- tionship with her sister, whom I never knew, but I guess there was some argument and they never spoke again," he said. "Whenever I would mention something about my family, my grand- mother would bring up the story of her sister and she would say, 'We haven't spoken in years, so you'll get no argument from me.' " When Jacobs was in his teens, and a student at the High School of Art and Design, he would go to Studio 54 all night, sometimes bringing his books along so he could go straight to class in the morning. "I had a ball," he said. "I mean, I really did." He went to France for the first time at seventeen, and "cried like a baby" on the plane home, because he felt so sure that he was meant to be a Parisian. "Living with my grandmother, I just kind of grew up feeling like I'm not going to be obliged to spend Thanksgiving with a bunch of people I didn't like--or who didn't like me! I shouldn't do anything, or shouldn't feel anything. I either do feel or I don't feel. I'm not going to should feel. Whether we're talking about contemporary art or we're talking about family, pretending that I feel something I don't feel doesn't really achieve anything. People say, What if something happened to one of them? Well, if that happens and I regret that, that'll be the way it is. But right now it's not something I'm regretting, so I can't act on that." When Jacobs says that people should be shameless, he is talking about something more than exhibitionism. He seeks a kind of relentless authenticity. His grandmother died in 1987, but in his adult life Jacobs has had another guardian: Robert Duffy, a tall, tanned, silver-haired man of fifty-three, who has been Jacobs's best friend and his business partner for twenty-four years. When he was thirty, Duffy, the son of a steel executive, wanted to go into business with a young designer. Jacobs was attending Parsons School of Design, and Duffy went to see the fashion show he put on for his graduation. "These three sweaters came out that were just like the most awkward proportions and shapes and colors, and they just looked so right on those girls," Duffy told me. "There was nothing intimidating about the clothes--I found them very friendly, and I still to this day do. He's never lost that childlike quality that he has in him when he's designing, and it's just some- thing that I love the consistency of. Wherever his influences come from, whatever it is, I can always tell if he's had a hand in something." Duffy has "1984" tattooed on his right hand, in honor of the year that he and Jacobs formed their partnership.

The Conclusion:

"I love frogs," he told me. "This sort of fairy-tale frog that became a prince, and the chameleon who changes colors with his environment. Zelig is my favorite film. I understand that. I can hang out in a sports bar with a bunch of straight guys and say 'Go, Knicks' and I can run around in the art scene and I can also be at the Met ball and be Mr. Fashion Designer with Anna Wintour. I can go wherever I want; I can be whatever I choose." This, in the end, is Marc Jacobs's superpower: "I can change colors--for my own amusement and, perhaps, the entertainment of others."