Time is up for Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton

The hugely innovative fashion designer, Marc Jacobs, announced his resignation from Louis Vuitton, the French fashion house, last week after 16 years at the helm. Here are the ups and downs of a rich and daring career.

 

Marc Jacobs is making his exit. In style, of course. Everything was black. An ominous giant clock hung over the stage, as if time were nearly over. Feather headdresses, dazzling leather, and an impressively opulent set at the Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2014 show helped Mr Jacobs bid adieu to the fashion house after 16 years serving as creative director.

 The American fashion mogul announced that he was leaving the brand to focus entirely on his namesake collection, which is worth nearly $1 billion in sales. The Marc Jacobs brand is likely to experience serious growth over the next few years.

Mr Jacobs, 50, is credited with transforming Louis Vuitton from a strictly leather-goods brand into a dynamic powerhouse. As the first fashion designer to create clothing under LV, Jacobs launched some of the most cult-like trends of our time, from graffiti bags to bunny ears. Over the years we have watched him create icons and push boundaries.

Before he became the provocative celebrity designer we know today, Jacobs studied at the renowned Parsons School of Design, and soon after met Robert Duffy, who would become his long-time business partner. In 1989, Jacobs and Duffy joined the sportswear label Perry Ellis as vice president and president.

Jacobs was successful at the label until his infamous Spring/Summer ‘grunge’ 1993 collection, something that is still buzzed about today. Jacobs took grunge from the music scene (think Nirvana) and splashed it onto the runway, adorning his models in flannel shirts and Doc Martens. The press was captivated. Perry Ellis was not.

The grunge collection was a commercial failure and the executives at Perry Ellis dismissed both Jacobs and Duffy from their roles at the company. However, Jacobs had now gained the attention of the fashion world. He and Duffy went on to launch the Marc Jacobs International Company and garnered the support of stars such as Naomi Campbell, who walked his 1994 show for free.

By 1997, Marc Jacobs was named creative director of Louis Vuitton. The designer began with no small task: tackling the brand’s first ready-to-wear clothing line. Jacobs spent the next decade reinventing Louis Vuitton from a stuffy luggage company to a vibrant fashion trendsetter, collaborating with the likes of punk artist Stephen Sprouse and photographer Richard Prince.

 If there’s anything Jacobs knew how to do, it was to breathe life into fashion. He made luxury clothing look casual and young, and was always at the centre of relevance. The designer broke boundaries and headlines not only with his collections, but also with his striking advertisements and his own personal style. How could anyone forget Dakota Fanning’s banned perfume advert, or the designer himself posing nude with his namesake fragrance?

The truth is, we love Marc Jacobs. We are obsessed with Marc Jacobs. A million women from Manhattan to Milan love the quirk and edge associated with his label and the hype that surrounds his name. With a slew of playful and feminine clothing collections, Mr Jacobs has tapped intuitively into what women want to wear.

 Up until now Jacobs has been juggling two fashion empires, one on each side of the Atlantic. He has become legendary in both expanses, but as he shifts his focus entirely onto the Marc Jacobs brand should we expect his success to go up or down? Probably neither. He is Marc Jacobs, and he will go any direction he wants. Whatever he does next, we won’t expect it. It’ll hit us in the face, it’ll be fabulously quirky, and we’ll love it.

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