Marc Jacobs As You've Never Seen Him Before
For someone in an industry as notoriously fickle as fashion, Marc Jacobs has remarkable staying power'not that he's ever likely to take his success for granted. His legendary work ethic ('rebel without a pause' was how one publication characterized him) has taken him to heights unmatched by any American designer, but his response to each success is to work even harder to sustain it the next time. Although he can sometimes sound like an anxious freshman looking for approval, it's been 13 years since he showed his first collection'a year after being fired by Perry Ellis for scaring the corporate pigeons with a women's line inspired by Courtney Love, an early example of his pop-culture instincts. Over the years his friends and muses have also included Winona Ryder, Kate Moss, and Lil' Kim. 'I'm always very drawn to fallen angels,' he concedes, not without a hint of irony given his own battles with drugs and alcohol. In 1999 his friends, led by his long-term business partner, Robert Duffy, pretty much dragged him to rehab, most likely saving his life.
Never one to do anything by half measures, Jacobs'who divides his time between New York and Paris, where he helms fashion behemoth Louis Vuitton'is now on an extreme diet and exercise regimen that was punctuated by a less serious rehab stint earlier this year. His reappearance at the Paris fashion shows in June prompted a wave of media speculation on his dramatic makeover, and not a little misanthropic sniggering on the Web. 'Right now I feel better about the way I look than I've ever felt,' he says, dismissing the bloggers who equate a tan and abs with selling out. He also sounds like a man learning to live more easily with himself. In a strikingly candid interview he talks about his insecurities, his first gay crush, and why there's no such thing as a bad trend in fashion.
AARON HICKLIN: I last saw you dressed as a pigeon at your holiday costume ball. It seems that a lot has changed since then.
MARC JACOBS: Since I was a pigeon? No, nothing's changed at all.
Well, there was rehab.
Oh, in terms of going into rehab again' Well, I wasn't drinking or drugging daily or anything like that. When I first went into rehab in 2000, I really had a horrible problem. I was a daily drug user and abusing alcohol, and I went against my will. It was [my business partner] Robert Duffy and how much he cared about me'I just had no choice, so he kind of saved my life in 2000. I've had many years of continued sobriety, but around November 2005, I was in Russia, had a couple of drinks, got drunk, and a couple of months later I was in Hong Kong, got drunk again. I was sort of doing it periodically, and as anyone who has a problem with drinking and drugging knows, it's a steady progression. It's like someone who goes off their diet. If you're serious about your diet you catch yourself and say, 'This is not what I want to do. I don't want to start overeating.'
Of course, the culture we live in now is such a fishbowl that nothing passes without a snarky comment on the Web.
I don't care about all that shit. I'm very outspoken and honest. I'm the first to say that I'm gay, that I'm insecure, that I have certain hang-ups, that I've been dependent on drugs or alcohol, so I don't really hide things with the fear that they're going to be revealed on some blog. You're going to get a bunch of blogs saying 'He must be on meth in order to be that skinny compared to 10 months ago,' but in fact I'm eating a totally organic diet, which has no flour, no sugar, no dairy, and no caffeine, and I lost weight because of that diet and because of a two and a half hour exercise regimen seven days a week.
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