nyt is tired of the typical fawning mj article, takes new approach

tadpolenyc

O.G.
Sep 9, 2006
27,862
2
from today's nyt style section:

The Survivor


Z-MARC-P1-1-articleLarge.jpg


By RUTH LA FERLA

CALL him a genius. Call him a junkie, an original, a shameless copycat, a winsome recluse, a brazen exhibitionist. Marc Jacobs has heard it all. And he has absorbed it all with a hard-won equanimity.

“You can live with the love, you can live with the hate,” Mr. Jacobs said the other day at his office in SoHo. He had placed his arms squarely on a wooden conference table so nondescript it might have been salvaged from a high school’s teacher’s lounge. “We’ve been bankrupt, we been fired,” he said. “We didn’t hang up our hat.”

He was talking about a checkered career that has seen the designer, now 48, ejected early on from a prestigious fashion post; undergoing repeated stints in rehab; and dodging, intermittently, the darts of tabloid gossips castigating him, among other things, for his vanity, his choice of sexual partners and his admitted struggles with sobriety.

Such experiences would have tested a lesser man’s flint. Not Mr. Jacobs, though. Dressed in a T-shirt and daisy-and-skull-patterned pants, he was the picture of high spirits and robust self-assurance.

At this point, “It’s easy to get past the detractors,” he said evenly, alluding to insiders’ forever debating his relevance. Is Mr. Jacobs in his prime, they wonder, or has he coasted past his sell-by date? And, more pointedly, how much longer will he hang on to his status as New York fashion’s chief arbiter of hip?

As long as he cares to, Mr. Jacobs would like you to know. It takes a lot these days to shake his confidence or to get a rise out of him. But the announcement that the Council of Fashion Designers of America would give him its Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday seems to have done the trick. “It should have been a half-lifetime award,” he was heard to grouse. He was joshing, right?

“It wasn’t a joke,” Mr. Jacobs replied, reddening perceptibly from his cheekbones to his neck and even, it seemed, through the SpongeBob SquarePants and Liz Taylor tattoos that decorate his biceps. “Lifetime achievement,” he repeated sourly. “That seems very final, like I’m done.
“But I’m not done.”

Indeed Mr. Jacobs, the wily Pied Piper of American fashion, is hardly played out. To many in the business, he is regarded as a cultural bellwether. His shows, in which models flash their panties, parade their bosoms in hourglass dresses or vamp — “Night Porter” style — in hot pants and harnesses, are as intently scrutinized as the Rosetta Stone.

His dossier seems all but unassailable. His string of stores on Bleecker Street, opened with Robert Duffy, his longtime business partner, has turned a retail backwater into lodestone for cool-seekers and busloads of style-obsessed tourists.

He has transformed the French fashion house Louis Vuitton, a once-musty purveyor of leather goods, into a cash cow. And, as he likes to remind you, legions of teenagers, aching to own a piece of his brand, snap up his flip-flops, fragrances and trinkets.

Mr. Jacobs’s inventiveness has earned him the Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, his particular pride, and nine previous C.F.D.A. awards, among them the coveted women’s wear Designer of the Year title last year.

“Awards generally mean stuff to other people more than they do to me,” he said. But, he added, gesturing expansively, “they give me a chance to thank those people publicly who are a part of all this.”

Through it all, Mr. Jacobs has marched to his own baton, pivoting, when the mood took him, on a polished heel. “We react to a whim,” he said last week, be that a fascination with the objectified eroticism of the photographer Guy Bourdin, with the social constraints of the Eisenhower era or with the druggy excesses of the Hollywood elite. Such whims have impelled him over the years to jettison the chaste fashions of his formative years for vividly sexy, voluminous dresses one season, and in the next, an aggressively streamlined, curve-clutching silhouette.

His habit of confounding expectations has made his show the reliable high point of every New York Fashion Week, a magnet for the likes of Debbie Harry, the artists John Currin and his wife, Rachel Feinstein, the porn star Michael Lucas and, on occasion, a Saudi noble or two. Those collections have nodded obliquely to rehab chic, to his fabled ode to grunge in the early 1990s and to post-Weimar Berlin. And they have spawned what passes in the fashion community for an intellectual spectator sport, with insiders splitting hairs over whether Mr. Jacobs is being brilliant, playfully trite — or just trite.

It depends on whom you ask. To his champions, he walks on water. “His shows have impact,” said André Leon Talley, Vogue’s editor at large. “They become the major, pivotal, prophetic moment of the season.”
But others insist he is merely treading water. “He feels to me less like a designer than a great producer or casting director, and there’s a lot to be said for that,” said Eric Gaskins, who comments blisteringly on some of fashion’s sacred cows in his blog The Emperor’s Old Clothes. “But at times, the overall message is pretty banal.”
 

tadpolenyc

O.G.
Sep 9, 2006
27,862
2
continued...

Moreover, Mr. Gaskins said, “it’s difficult to encapsulate what he’s done as his own signature,” an observation echoed by industry veterans like David Wolfe, the creative director of the Doneger Group, a trend forecasting company. Mr. Wolfe says he admires Mr. Jacobs’s fine cultural antennas, he said, and his knack for “spinning a mystique.”

“But does he have a consistent identity? Absolutely not.”

Well, you know what they say about consistency. Mr. Jacobs shows no compunction to stick with a signature look. “You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t,” he offered serenely. “If you stay with one look, people just say, ‘Oh, he does the same thing every season.’ If you do something different each time, you’re some kind of fashion imposter.”

Keeping up his credibility — and his cool quotient — would be a challenge, Mr. Jacobs allowed, if he could take the word “cool” seriously. “It’s one of those words that still make me stare at my feet,” he said. “It’s what other people can use to describe you.”

Or not, as the case may be. “He’s not as cool as he used to be,” said Tracy L. Cox, a designer and Hollywood stylist whose high-profile client list includes Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Seinfeld. “Most of my friends who are fashion forward, that’s not one of the brands they look to.”

Despite Mr. Jacobs’s much-vaunted associations with celebrities like Sofia Coppola and the singer-turned-designer Victoria Beckham, he has not made much of a splash on the red carpet, that ersatz runway for the masses, which has made stars of designers like Elie Saab and Marchesa.

“His clothes don’t necessarily translate on the red carpet,” Mr. Cox said. “They kind of overwhelm the actress, as if they were wearing her.”

They are “a little bit avant-garde for the untrained eye to understand,” added June Ambrose, who dresses Missy Elliott and Mariah Carey. “They are not necessarily red carpet, strike-your-pose pieces.”

But then, Mr. Jacobs likes it that way, he said. “His strategy is different,” Ms. Ambrose said. “He aims to appeal to women who live in his clothes, wear them every day, and not just for the cameras.”

MARC JACOBS can be thin-skinned. Stung by criticism several seasons ago in the wake of a show that was three hours late, he responded the following season by starting precisely on time. Even then, he recalled, “people were angry.” Last year, he tweaked his audience once more, starting his spring 2011 in September two minutes early, leaving spectators scrambling for their seats.

Such antic behavior has not always sat well with his peers. But the designer dismisses the notion that he is contemptuous of the industry that has nurtured him since he introduced his label in 1986. “I don’t do anything out of malice,” he said. “I’m not clever enough to be that calculating.”

Really? It’s not always easy to take his measure. Merchants at stores including Bloomingdale’s, Barneys New York and Nordstrom declined to comment on the designer’s performance. There are indications, however, that Mr. Jacobs has lost traction with the young — the sons and daughters and siblings of that indie generation that first embraced him a couple of decades ago as one of their own.

“We don’t hear as much about Marc Jacobs as we did five or six years ago,” said Irma Zandl, a youth marketing consultant with clients including Coca-Cola, Estée Lauder and the Disney Channel. “With the exception of his fragrances, he is less on people’s radar.”

Branding experts suggest that while consumer awareness of the Jacobs label remains high, its prestige has diminished. In a survey by the Luxury Institute in 2009 of about 600 high-income women, Mr. Jacobs’s label was ranked 11th in perceived value and prestige. The brand plummeted to 25th in 2010. That slide would seem to indicate that “the brand is becoming more massified,” said Milton F. Pedraza, chief executive of the institute, an organization that does research on wealthy consumers. “If that isn’t a deliberate strategy, then something, the design or the craftsmanship, needs to change.”
Takishma Faison, 34, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, is among the disaffected. “At one time, his style was very distinctive,” Ms. Faison said. “It had a recognizable look.” Today, she finds his offerings “kind of commercial, kind of watered down. They don’t look ‘designer,’ ” she said. She added that if she had the means, she would instead turn to Prada or Lanvin.

A fashion identity in constant flux has also sown confusion. “I feel like he’s kind of all over the place,” said Jenna Polito, an F.I.T. design student. He offers “so many different styles, and when he takes inspiration from something, he takes it a little too far.”

Such early adapters are moving on, observers say, turning instead to cheap-and-chic outlets like H & M and Zara, and to young-minded labels like Rag & Bone, Helmut Lang or Alexander Wang. In their minds, “there are a lot of designers who are just hipper, better priced and more trend-driven,” said Bonnie Pressman, a retail and fashion consultant and a former Barneys executive. “They’ve really stepped up to offer more of what the consumer is wanting.”

That observation is reinforced by changes in Mr. Jacobs’s store real estate. At Bloomingdale’s, the Marc by Marc Jacobs label is somewhat lost in the mix of contemporary brands like Theory and Alice & Olivia, while at the Barneys Co-op store in SoHo, it has been exiled to the rear of the store, eclipsed by Carven, Phillip Lim and Mr. Wang.

Mr. Jacobs is not oblivious to criticism. “I’m going to be defensive here,” he said, shifting slightly in his chair. “People are always going to want newness in fashion, just like they want new pop stars.” Yet he conceded a touch wistfully, “Maybe there’s something I’m missing. I don’t know ... ”
He is flummoxed as well by the hostile reactions to his radical transformation a couple of years ago from doughy, ponytailed nerd to a tanned gym body given to posing in the buff in magazines and in his advertisements for Bang, his men’s fragrance.

Jenna Sauers, who writes about fashion on Jezebel, the feminist blog, would happily trade in the streamlined, preening Mr. Jacobs, for the older, apparently gentler model. “There was something about him that was so endearing,” Ms. Sauers said in an interview. “He was kind of a schlub, and you felt he loved his work. I have a lot of affection for that Marc. I’m missing those vulnerable moments.”

But Mr. Jacobs dismissed his former “fat guy” as the product of a fragile self-esteem. “If my unhappiness was creating insecurities, and that is what people miss, I’m sorry,” he said coolly. “But I’m the same person, only stronger now, and more positive.”

Retreat, for the designer, is clearly not an option. Nor is it for those industry professionals who remain sanguine, or at least reconciled, to Mr. Jacobs’s continuing sway. “He is a juggernaut,” said Mr. Wolfe of the Doneger Group. “And a juggernaut is slow to lose momentum.”

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/fashion/marc-jacobs-the-survivor.html?_r=2&hp
 

nascar fan

just cruising
O.G.
Jul 3, 2009
14,645
160
Here is what I have to say to that: Kiss our fannies! Between all the flowery, meaningless words here, all I can say is someone is stupid ... and clueless. (and I don't mean me)
 

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jun3machina

hopelessly addicted
O.G.
Apr 11, 2006
43,187
24
ridiculous. i thinkk they fail to realize that his clients, the people who really love him, dont need the trendiness of it all.

i've said it once, and i'll say it again: MJ the brand is like a cult movie. he'll always have the haters, and it might not be the most popular blockbuster film ever made, but boy are there those folks out there that know ever scene, every line....and hold it near and dear to their hearts.
 

iluvmybags

& My Motos & Shoes!
O.G.
Sep 13, 2006
38,105
721
I've been buying MJ clothing & bags for almost 10 yrs now (I bought my first MbyMJ jacket in the summer of '02) and I hate to say it, but there are a lot of points in that article that I agree with (sorry MJ! :shame:smile:. More specifically:

Or not, as the case may be. “He’s not as cool as he used to be,” said Tracy L. Cox, a designer and Hollywood stylist whose high-profile client list includes Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Seinfeld. “Most of my friends who are fashion forward, that’s not one of the brands they look to.” . . .

. . . Really? It’s not always easy to take his measure. Merchants at stores including Bloomingdale’s, Barneys New York and Nordstrom declined to comment on the designer’s performance. There are indications, however, that Mr. Jacobs has lost traction with the young —the sons and daughters and siblings of that indie generation that first embraced him a couple of decades ago as one of their own.

“We don’t hear as much about Marc Jacobs as we did five or six years ago,” said Irma Zandl, a youth marketing consultant with clients including Coca-Cola, Estée Lauder and the Disney Channel. “With the exception of his fragrances, he is less on people’s radar.”


Branding experts suggest that while consumer awareness of the Jacobs label remains high, its prestige has diminished. In a survey by the Luxury Institute in 2009 of about 600 high-income women, Mr. Jacobs’s label was ranked 11th in perceived value and prestige. The brand plummeted to 25th in 2010. That slide would seem to indicate that “the brand is becoming more massified,” said Milton F. Pedraza, chief executive of the institute, an organization that does research on wealthy consumers. “If that isn’t a deliberate strategy, then something, the design or the craftsmanship, needs to change.”

Takishma Faison, 34, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, is among the disaffected. “At one time, his style was very distinctive,” Ms. Faison said. “It had a recognizable look.” Today, she finds his offerings “kind of commercial, kind of watered down. They don’t look ‘designer,’ ” she said. She added that if she had the means, she would instead turn to Prada or Lanvin.

A fashion identity in constant flux has also sown confusion. “I feel like he’s kind of all over the place,” said Jenna Polito, an F.I.T. design student. He offers “so many different styles, and when he takes inspiration from something, he takes it a little too far.” . . . .

. . . . Jenna Sauers, who writes about fashion on Jezebel, the feminist blog, would happily trade in the streamlined, preening Mr. Jacobs, for the older, apparently gentler model. “There was something about him that was so endearing,” Ms. Sauers said in an interview. “He was kind of a schlub, and you felt he loved his work. I have a lot of affection for that Marc. I’m missing those vulnerable moments.”

An excellent example of how true a lot of these points are, is recent activity to this MJ forum here on tPF. At one time, the MJ forum was one of the busiest and most active sub-forums on tPF. There were reveals and new topics of conversation added almost on a daily basis. It was hard to keep up with all of the topics and each time you'd log in, all of the threads on the first page would be bolded text because someone was always replying or starting a new thread. I was shocked the other day, when I was searching for a thread and noticed that there were only TWO PAGES of current topics -- everything else had been archived because of inactivity (of course, you can find those threads in a search, but they're not "live" and active within the sub-forum)

Of course, you can't blame MJ entirely for loss of interest in his brand. There have been a lot of designers who have just entered the fashion world within the last few years and as interest in those designers grow, attention to the "senior" designers who have been around a lot longer are certain to be affected. There's more variety, more designers to choose from with prices ranging from the low end all the way up to the couture & luxury lines. Not to mention, a lot more designers are putting out diffusion lines, not only within their own houses, but in larger stores like Target and H&M and Wal Mart.

While I wouldn't say that MJ is a "dying breed" I do agree that the brand isn't as "prestigious" as it once was and his popularity has definitely dropped off. At the same time, I think all it will take is that one piece - that one bag -- that everyone is talking about to bring him back to the forefront. I guess only time will tell
 

Mina_Elina

Ponies/Bows/Hearts
Apr 18, 2011
129
0
Quite frankly, I buy what catches my eye... MJ bags have caught my eye waaay more than any other brand has. I just like them, that's basically it :smile: And that's why I buy his stuff. It's a mix of colourful and bit quirky (Miss Marc, mice flats) girly, feminine (pink stams, daisy, lola) I don't know thaaat much about fashion to be honest, but I do appreciate what he does... I don't see MJ as being try-to-hard-to-be-sexy-or-ultra-uber-fad-trendy as some other brands do (and also try to sell to the masses) He also doesn't seem to take himself super-duper serious... I like that too :smile: you can tell through his fashion, that he has a sense of humor :biggrin:
I personally hate monogram-galore bags, I hate 'in your face, ha!' names of brands on clothing, shoes, bags, etc... MJ doesn't do that so much, now does he? I couldn't care less if other people lost interest in him and his brand, if that's the case, if he's becoming 'indie' (I highly doubt it!) then I guess I'll take MJ's indie-ness over overrated in your face monogram stuff from other brands. Ghesquiere (Balenciaga) makes terribly ugly shoes (my opinion) would I buy them because they're 'hot, hot, hot' (to some people anyway...): nope... would I buy a LV brown monogram bag because everyone and their mom has one: no! Do I look through magazines and feel let down that I don't look like what I see in them: nope. To each their own... I appreciate what MJ does with his bags, I like them, I think they're better priced than other designer bags, there's a whooooole loooot of variety and that's pretty good! That's awesome actually! a bit of everything for everyone!

My .02 cents :biggrin:
 

jun3machina

hopelessly addicted
O.G.
Apr 11, 2006
43,187
24
I've been buying MJ clothing & bags for almost 10 yrs now (I bought my first MbyMJ jacket in the summer of '02) and I hate to say it, but there are a lot of points in that article that I agree with (sorry MJ! :shame:smile:. More specifically:



An excellent example of how true a lot of these points are, is recent activity to this MJ forum here on tPF. At one time, the MJ forum was one of the busiest and most active sub-forums on tPF. There were reveals and new topics of conversation added almost on a daily basis. It was hard to keep up with all of the topics and each time you'd log in, all of the threads on the first page would be bolded text because someone was always replying or starting a new thread. I was shocked the other day, when I was searching for a thread and noticed that there were only TWO PAGES of current topics -- everything else had been archived because of inactivity (of course, you can find those threads in a search, but they're not "live" and active within the sub-forum)

Of course, you can't blame MJ entirely for loss of interest in his brand. There have been a lot of designers who have just entered the fashion world within the last few years and as interest in those designers grow, attention to the "senior" designers who have been around a lot longer are certain to be affected. There's more variety, more designers to choose from with prices ranging from the low end all the way up to the couture & luxury lines. Not to mention, a lot more designers are putting out diffusion lines, not only within their own houses, but in larger stores like Target and H&M and Wal Mart.

While I wouldn't say that MJ is a "dying breed" I do agree that the brand isn't as "prestigious" as it once was and his popularity has definitely dropped off. At the same time, I think all it will take is that one piece - that one bag -- that everyone is talking about to bring him back to the forefront. I guess only time will tell
i do agree that certain areas have been cut quality-wise.....

for me, MJ really hits it out of the park certain seasons, and the other seasons i just like to sit back and watch: they're interesting, but not my style, but i still admire the aesthetics beyond any other brand out there for it's ingenuity, genius and originality. i treat the brand like post modern art.

the whole thing about the forum here, i dont feel has anything to do with the brand honestly, but more about the state of the economy. i find less splurging on bags, more thought out purchases, and so in turn, less reveals than what we're used to but not any less of the love. it's just calm buying wise all around. you see it even on ebay sales. when the forum was a kickin', so to speak, it had a lot to do with a lot of purchases and reveals.

i never really found MJ a 'prestigious brand' ever really. he was always the outsider. he was what the kid wore who was perhaps famous, but not popular, that kid that didn't fit in. he dressed the more indie celebs.....like kirsten dunst, zoe deschanel, winona ryder.

and i have to say I really admire MJ for not selling himself out to the masses. he did diffusion lines before anyone knew what they were. in the early 1990's, before MBMJ he did MARC JACOBS LOOK. and then marc by marc came out of that. He's always been ahead of the curve IMHO, and still is. it just takes the world a few years to realize that....and in the meantime, when people are still pondering him and his brand with sincere earnestness, they're writing articles like this out of uncertainty.

right now im in that state where im not head over heels with anything for fall 2011, but it's still very interesting to me. and I really look forward to seeing peoples reveals.

fall 2005 and fall 2010 are my 2 favorite seasons of his of all time, and seriously, if i have to wait 5 years inbetween fashion-gasms, i will for this brand :P
 

mjsmurf77

O.G.
Nov 7, 2008
172
0
I read this story earlier today online and found it interesting--I don't agree with much of it, but I do agree that the quality has slipped in some cases--and has sometimes made me hesitant to a buy a bag.

At the same time, as Jun said, the economy sucks, and materials and production costs keep rising, so I applaud Marc for trying to keep some bags affordable for those of us who aren't spending like they used to. I read a negative review of a multipocket on saks.com recently--the reviewer complained that the quality wasn't what it was of the old MPs but that the price hadn't even dropped...and when you think about it, the MPs today would cost probably double if the quality were the same as the old ones. I like that there's a range of price points within the MJ line--there's something for everyone--and think overall they're trying to balance quality with price.

And I agree with Jun about MJ's customer base--the brand is not Chanel or Louis Vuitton and never will be. It's fun and irreverent and doesn't feel designer to me--this is why I keep coming back!
 

marie-lou

Chocolate Heaven
O.G.
Dec 6, 2006
5,744
3
I found it very interesting to read this article! Since I am in Europe, and more specific, Belgium, I don't know what is or isn't "hot" in the US. Here, there is only a very small designer clientele, and most popular "expensive" brands are probably LV and local brands like Delvaux. I know that the designer clientele in the US, but also in the UK is much much bigger, with many "new" designer coming up.

The only reason I know of many ("american") designers is because I follow blogs and am a member of this forum... If you' d go out and ask 100 people here if they ever heard of MJ, they will probably say no. However, I can see it happen that in a few years, MJ and other "smaller/ younger" designers (and with this I mean other designer than the "established fashion dinosaurs" like Chanel, Dior, etc who have been around for longer) will get more known and popular in Europe, where now, we are a little "behind". I can imagine perhaps the "new" aspect of MJ is already gone in the states (but please, correct me if you do not agree!!) but I can certainly see the brand getting a giant boost in Europe! And perhaps then I'll finally be able to buy in stores instead of scouring eBay for my needed dose of MJ ;)
 

Tokimeki

For science!
Apr 8, 2008
97
1
i do agree that certain areas have been cut quality-wise.....

for me, MJ really hits it out of the park certain seasons, and the other seasons i just like to sit back and watch: they're interesting, but not my style, but i still admire the aesthetics beyond any other brand out there for it's ingenuity, genius and originality. i treat the brand like post modern art.

....i never really found MJ a 'prestigious brand' ever really. he was always the outsider. he was what the kid wore who was perhaps famous, but not popular, that kid that didn't fit in. he dressed the more indie celebs.....like kirsten dunst, zoe deschanel, winona ryder.....


:tup: Hit the nail on the head for me. MJ's style, and the reason I like it or dislike it at times, is this.
 
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