Or, to put it another way, Jacobs averts his gaze and plays the wallflower, which makes the culture all the more avid in its pursuit of him. He’s still into the rock scene, and he’s now, most fruitfully, into the art world, too. His ad campaigns at Marc Jacobs have starred Cindy Sherman and Feinstein; his Vuitton collaboration with Murakami was a worldwide phenomenon.
“Chanel would be the scariest job in the world to get, but it would also be the coup de grâce. I’d be scared to death and thrilled.”
Typically, this worries him. “It’s not like I can make the Murakami moment happen again,” he says. “It’s not like if I went to the beach for a week and thought about it, I could come back with an answer. There are moments where it’s like, Oh, God, everything’s okay right now, but if I don’t come up with something soon, how are they going to feel about me then? This is the root of my psychological problems. There’s an exercise that I learned in therapy to be present, to be open to new experiences and then let go of the results. That’s what’s worked for me in the past. Of course, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for me in the future.
“Chanel would be the scariest job in the world to get, but it would also be the coup de grâce. I’d be scared to death and thrilled, but it’s the only thing I’d love to do other than what I’m doing right now. If that’s all that’s left, then that’s not such a bad thing. Karl’s [Lagerfeld] the perfect person for the job, and he’s not going anywhere, but if there’s anything that tickles me behind the ear every once in a while, that’s it. That’s the only, the ultimate, thing.”
Backstage at the Louis Vuitton spring-summer 2006 men’s fashion show in Paris on the Fourth of July, Marc Jacobs is critiquing the show. “As long as the boys look hot, it works,” he says, as a team of stylists buzz around him in and out of the backstage tent, trying to gauge how much self-tanner is too much self-tanner in the temperamental Paris sunshine. And the boys do look hot: all slim and teenage with surfer hair and perfect teeth.
“Men’s is just not an area I’m extremely comfortable with,” he says.
It is up to Jacobs to field reporters’ questions in the crush and swarm of the after-show, to say “Blue Lagoon” a thousand times when asked about inspiration, to sign dozens of autographs for Asian journalists with no compunction about acting like teenage fans.
“I didn’t really do anything,” he says.
After the show, he turns up at Le Baron, a Paris bar with red walls and banquettes that Jacobs describes as “the hottest place in Paris. When Sofia was living here, she came all the time.”
On the dance floor, he does a series of pogo-y, mosh-pit moves to eighties songs spun by a pair of fat, hairy drag queens. He looks, bopping around, singing along to old Wham!, like he never wants to grow up.
On a Friday afternoon a month later, Jacobs is in his New York office, getting ready for a Scout Niblett concert at the Knitting Factory, and he’s talking about what he’d really like to do next, and it’s not even Chanel. What Marc Jacobs wants most is to fall in love—“operatic” love, if at all possible.
“For the first time in my life, I can stay home alone and feel okay,” he says. “I used to think that if I was alone physically, that meant I was lonely, but for the first time in my life, this is not the case. But I don’t think I like being single. In sobriety, I definitely haven’t had the romance I’m dreaming of. I’m not looking to hook up with someone for a wild time out anymore. I hate the word mature . . . ” Jacobs’s voice trails off and he blushes a bit.
“There are nights when I can’t sleep. I go into a fantasyland and tableau sort of thinking, like, Tonight would be the perfect night to say, ‘Honey, I’m really tired and worried about work. And tell me about your day.’ ”
“Do you think someone will read this and try to get in touch with me?” He looks hopeful. “If I read that about someone, I’d drop him a note.”