Fashion changes. People change. People who make fashion change. And then what? Well, we may all be wearing yellow in about a year, drawing from a new profile of one of the world’s most influential designers, Marc Jacobs, in the Financial Times. Marc seems in the midst of a transformative phase. First, he can’t work out, the products of which he recently unveiled to the world in his greasy nude ad for his new cologne:
When I tell Jacobs that I have torn my Achilles tendon, he grimaces sympathetically and mentions that he has a torn rotator cuff on his shoulder and has to have surgery in a few weeks, so he hasn’t “been able to work out at all”. Jacobs famously transformed himself a few years ago from bespectacled, long-haired, neurotic schlub into an Adonis with sculpted hair and body (and, for that matter, sculpted body hair), and has been fanatic about his two-hour gym workouts ever since.
I ask what he does instead, since I expect him to have transferred his gym obsession to something else. “Well,” he thinks for a minute, then shrugs. “Nothing, really.”
Also alarming: Jacobs did not wear his signature kilt to the interview.
“Hey,” I say. “Where’s your kilt?”
“I just didn’t feel like wearing it.”
Third and also out-of-character: He’s not buying a lot of art, and what he has bought isn’t even the kind of thing he usually buys.
“Actually, I haven’t bought anything for a long time,” he says as we sit side by side on our banquette. “The other day I bought a little 1962 Ellsworth Kelly at the Christie’s auction, but that’s it. It was a funny thing for me to buy, too.” Why? I ask.
“It’s just a white square with a yellow curve. Usually I like more figurative work - this is the sort of thing I’d look at and admire but not want to buy. But I just like it … it makes me happy.”
Jacobs is also taking a new direction in his fall 2010 Louis Vuitton campaign, which will star Christy Turlington, Karen Elson and Natalia Vodianova “in a dressing room, looking gorgeous. This is what I wanted for this season: nothing tricky, nothing too fashion, just gorgeous; the kind of clothes non-fashion people like.” So he can’t work out, his art buying-habits are out of whack, and he wants to appeal to non-fashion people. But! He explains:
“I’m as tortured as ever, I see my shrink once a week, have all the same mood swings, I can sit there the night before a show and think, ‘What if they hate it? What if my life is over and I am homeless?’ I can catastrophise with the best of them. I have sat over on that couch” - he gestures at a couch across the room - “with [artist] John Currin and he’ll say, ‘What are you doing?’ and I’ll say, ‘I have no idea’, and then he’ll talk about a smile he’s repainted 16 times. But I also have a certain amount of self-awareness at this point, and I recognise all those neuroses are just human. It’s why I think now I am attracted to yellow. It’s positive; it’s the optimistic choice.”
So at least he’s still a New Yorker. One who could convince us all to wear yellow clothes against our better depressive sensibilities, if he wanted to.