Marc Jacobs As You've Never Seen Him Before
Have you become immune over time to gossip or just learned to disguise your sensitivities?
No, I am sensitive, and it does create problems for me. I mean, there's part of me that really loves the attention, so there's that side of it. But the side that's sad is how much people love that kind of negativity'the bad news'and how that, unfortunately, allows certain people to feel better about their own lives. I think it exists in everyone to a certain extent, and I'm not going to exclude myself. I do sometimes, with my own insecurities, feel better about my abilities when someone else doesn't do so well, someone I'm envious of.
And what are your insecurities?
There's a lot of them. I mean, right now I feel better about the way I look than I've ever felt, which makes a huge difference, but I used to really hate seeing my own reflection in the mirror, and I'm not talking about in a drug- or alcohol-induced state'I mean in general. I just hid behind clothes, and I didn't really care about what I wore, and I didn't care about my skin or my hair'I just felt like, There's nothing more I can do to look more attractive'what's the point? and believing that, I just avoided having my picture taken. But I do feel better since I've been going to the gym and keeping on this diet, and also I find I've been taking time for myself. I'm doing all the things I used to make fun of. I'd always say, 'The idea of a guy who spends an hour in his bathroom every morning, grooming and picking out his clothes, that's just not me, I'd never do that,' but you know what'I really enjoy doing that now.
It's somewhat ironic given that you're in the business of making other people look and feel good about themselves.
Right, and as a kid I thought, God, I'd love to work in a pizza parlor because I'd get to eat pizza all day, but the reality is that if you work in a pizza parlor, I doubt you want to eat pizza all day. The funny thing is, going back to the blogs, there's a bunch of people who've said, 'Oh, we liked the way he used to look, when he was grungy, and now he just looks like every Chelsea queen, blah blah blah,' and I just think, You know what, I'm just going to do what makes me happy. And I'm the same exact person, so if my haircut is too Chelsea for somebody, and if I've changed from funny awkward '70s reading glasses to contact lenses, and if I'm tan now and in slightly better shape, well, it's too bad. My behavior and my likes and dislikes are the same.
Has insecure Marc Jacobs vanished along with the funny '70s reading glasses?
No, I'm terribly insecure. I have a million choices to make every day. The thing is, I do base a lot of my self-worth on the opinion of other people. I'm not only what I do for a living, but it is a huge part of my life, so the opinion of others, whether critics, customers, or friends, does really affect me, and that is a huge breeding ground for insecurity.
But you're one of the great American designers; you must have reached a point where you can say 'I've done it'?
No, the reality is that we have to prove ourselves over and over again. It's not like we've reached a certain point and we're on cruise control: You've got to work harder and harder each time, not only to maintain but to better yourself and improve. The forward movement is what I'm interested in, in terms of growth, in terms of learning. Like everyone I know, what gives me the most pleasure also gives me the most pain. It's like at the gym'the harder I work out, the more I sweat, the sorer I am the next day, the more likely it is that I've gained.
But you also need balance.
Well, and that is the key to all of my problems. I'm a very black-and-white person. I'm feast or famine. I'll work out seven days a week or none at all; I'll work all hours of the day or as little as possible. Balance is something that I've just not been able to obtain. The one thing that's helped me to achieve some sort of balance is my life between New York and Paris, because Paris is a lot calmer and slower-moving than New York. I find myself at home at 8 o'clock for dinner, and I'll walk the dogs, and I'm in bed before midnight. When I have a few hours to myself in Paris, I feel like a success, and when I have a few hours to myself in New York, I feel like a failure, because in New York there's always dinners to go to, gallery openings to go to, movie premieres, parties'it's just so full-on. If balance comes to me in any way, it's through being in two places. I live in a bit of a bubble here.
Do you consider yourself an outsider?
Yeah, I do, I really don't believe I fit in any of the worlds that we've mentioned. I feel slightly comfortable sometimes in each world, but never like I really belong to any of them. There's never really been that moment where I've said, 'Wow, these are my people, this is where I'm comfortable.'
Do you feel awkward at times?
Yeah, most of the time. I have an ability to be a chameleon, so I am able to adapt to an environment on the outside, but the internal stuff is complete awkwardness and discomfort.
You've obviously found a soul mate in your business partner, Robert Duffy.
Yeah, I've known him longer and been closer to him than any other human being, relative, friend, or anything, and not as lovers'ever'by the way.
I love that Naomi Campbell stepped in to intervene on your behalf the first time you went to rehab.
She did, but she's a very, very good friend of mine. Naomi has an uncanny ability to know what's going on with me, whether I tell her myself or not, and it's not through gossip either. She's just very intuitive and very sensitive. I met her when she was really young and I was starting out as a designer too, and we really became friendly from our first meeting, and we've always been completely honest with each other.
Yet the public perception of Naomi is very different, one-dimensional.
She's a human being, you know. 'Let he who is free of sin cast the first stone' is just my favorite saying. I'm always very drawn to fallen angels, and I really believe everyone is born perfect and good, and we all make mistakes.