As a collection, however, it was divisive. There were no silhouettes that could be imitated (like fall’s long, lean looks) or much that could actually be worn. But it raised interesting questions—about construction, about what constitutes sex appeal in our sexually overwrought culture. It was smart about clothes and about attraction, and it was funny and ironic. But it was also two hours late, and people’s ability to appreciate a thought--provoking show tends to fade pretty rapidly at eleven on a weeknight.
Fast-forward a month later, to the Louis Vuitton show in Paris. Same crowd, different bleachers, same waiting. Typically, the proximity to corporate HQ has meant that Jacobs behaved, but not this time: Even though LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault sat in the front row, tapping his watch and furiously typing on his BlackBerry, Vuitton was more than an hour late.
Whereas New York, for Jacobs, is about spirit and a secondary line (the commercially huge Marc by Marc Jacobs), Paris is about big, big business. Vuitton handbags make millions for the company. In Paris, late or not, the focus is less on the clothes (this season, it was a tongue-in-cheek nod to Richard Prince’s pervy paperback nurses) than it is on those money-earning bags. So he started an hour late; as soon as those Prince homages came out, Arnault smiled. They were cool (Prince printed Henny Youngman jokes over the LV logo) and had “waiting list” all over them. It was another successful Jacobs-engineered merger of fashion, art, and pop culture, like the blockbuster bags he did with Takashi Murakami and Stephen Sprouse. Late, petulant, but he’d pulled it off again.
Part of the current Marc Jacobs mania centers on Jacobs the man, who has managed in the past year to completely remake his public persona. He’s gone from being a greasy-haired, bespec’d perpetually single nerd to a diamond-studded, low-carb-eating, wheatgrass-glugging, posing-in-just-a-towel stranger, with a tattooed boyfriend named Jason Preston who gives all sorts of interviews to the press. (Preston’s Friendster page says: “I love going out with the most fabulous people, I rarely saw [sic] that word. only the fab survive … I am the kind of guy you fall in love with because of my looks & then you get to know me and start to wonder what you ever did to deserve me. Fucked up, huh?”)