Marc Jacobs (born April 9, 1963) is an American fashion designer. He is the head designer for Marc Jacobs, as well as Marc by Marc Jacobs, a diffusion line, with more than 200 retail stores in 60 countries. He has been the creative director of the French design house Louis Vuitton since 1997. Jacobs is on Time Magazine’s “2010 Time 100” list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and ranked 12th on Out Magazine’s 2011 list of “50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America”.
Marc Jacobs was born to a non-observant Jewish family in New York City. When he was seven, his father, an agent at the William Morris agency, died. His mother, who remarried three times, was “mentally ill” and “didn’t really take care of her kids”, according to Jacobs. As a teenager, he went to live with his paternal grandmother on the Upper West Side, in an apartment in the Majestic on Central Park West.
He graduated from the High School of Art and Design in 1981 and studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York. During his time at Parsons, Jacobs won the Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award in 1984, and in the same year was also awarded the Chester Weinberg Gold Thimble Award and the Design Student of the Year Award.
At age fifteen, Jacobs worked as a stockboy at Charivari, a now-defunct avant-garde clothing boutique in New York City. While still at Parsons, Jacobs designed and sold his first line of hand-knit sweaters. He also designed his first collection for Reuben Thomas, Inc., under the Sketchbook label.
With Robert Duffy, Jacobs’ creative collaborator, and business partner since the mid-1980s, he formed Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc., which continues to this day. In a 2008 interview for 032c, Duffy indicated that he remains Jacobs’s best friend and confidant.
In 1986, backed by Onward Kashiyama USA, Inc., Jacobs designed his first collection bearing the Marc Jacobs label. In 1987, Jacobs was the youngest designer to have ever been awarded the fashion industry’s highest tribute, the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent.
In 1988, Jacobs and Duffy joined the women’s design unit of Perry Ellis after its founder, Perry Ellis, had died as vice president and president, respectively. In addition, Jacobs oversaw the design of the various women’s licensees. In 1992, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded Jacobs with The Women’s Designer of the Year Award. In the same year, he designed a “grunge” collection for Perry Ellis, leading to his dismissal.
In the fall of 1993, Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc. launched their own licensing and design company: Marc Jacobs International Company, L.P.
In 1994, Jacobs produced his first full collection of menswear.
In 1997, Jacobs was appointed Louis Vuitton’s creative director, where he created the company’s first ready-to-wear clothing line. Jacobs has collaborated with many popular artists for his Louis Vuitton collections, including Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami and most recently American artist Richard Prince and rapper Kanye West.
In the spring of 2001, Jacobs introduced his secondary line, Marc by Marc Jacobs. In 2006, Jacobs started a new line of body-splash fragrances in affordable huge ten-ounce bottles which are distributed by Coty. First only being sold in perfume boutiques, they have become more and more popular during the recent years.
In 2007 filmmaker Loïc Prigent made a documentary film about Jacobs called Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton.
In February 2008, Jacobs was accused of plagiarizing a scarf design created in the 1950s by Swedish designer Gösta Olofsson. Jacobs settled the matter by offering monetary compensation to Olofsson’s son.
In 2009, Jacobs launched a shirt, sold at his stores, demanding the legalization of gay marriage.
In May 2009, Jacobs co-hosted, with fashion model Kate Moss, a “model and muse”-themed gala for the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
In February 2010, Jacobs sued Ed Hardy for infringing on the designs of one of his embroidered handbags.
In the course of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in July 2011 Jacobs was the patron of the young talent award “Designer for Tomorrow by Peek & Cloppenburg”. The five finalists were selected by Jacob and the juryboard and received a personal coaching by Jacobs. The juryboard and Jacobs appointed the winner of 2011 during the DfT award show.
In August 2011, it was reported that Jacobs may succeed John Galliano as creative director of Christian Dior.
Jacobs is a prominent fixture in the New York City celebrity scene, having become something of a celebrity himself. The audience for his fashion shows typically includes celebrities like Kim Gordon and Vincent Gallo. Most of his collections make references to the fashions of past decades from the 1940s to the 1980s. Disputing the claim by the designer Oscar de la Renta that Jacobs is a mere copyist, Guy Trebay, a critic for The New York Times, has written “unlike the many brand-name designers who promote the illusion that their output results from a single prodigious creativity, Mr. Jacobs makes no pretense that fashion emerges full blown from the head of one solitary genius”. Explaining his clothes, Jacobs has said “what I prefer is that even if someone feels hedonistic, they don’t look it. Curiosity about sex is much more interesting to me than domination. … My clothes are not hot. Never. Never.
In summer 2011, there were 239 Marc Jacobs retail stores in 60 countries. Some of them present only a certain portion of the company’s several brands (The Marc Jacobs Collection, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Little Marc, a children’s line). The various ready-to-wear and accessory collections are also widely available at department stores around the globe.