Marc Jacobs: The Remarkable Voyage of a Fashion Icon

May 28, 2024 | Academic

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Marc Jacobs, a celebrated American fashion designer is known for his eponymous label, Marc Jacobs, his diffusion line Marc by Marc Jacobs, and his tenure as creative director at Louis Vuitton.

Figure: Marc Jacobs

Born in New York City in 1963, Jacobs faced challenges early in life due to the death of his father and his mother’s subsequent marriages, leading to a nomadic childhood. During his teenage years, he found stability and inspiration living with his paternal grandmother, whom he often credits for shaping his creative path.

After graduating from the High School of Art and Design in 1981, Jacobs pursued further education at Parsons School of Design. His exceptional talent was recognized with several prestigious awards, including Design Student of the Year and the Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award, for his graduate collection featuring Op-Art sweaters hand-knitted by his grandmother.

Jacobs’s breakthrough came when his graduate collection caught the attention of Barbara Weiser, owner of New York’s Charivari boutique, who ordered his sweaters to be professionally produced and sold under the label Marc Jacobs for Marc and Barbara. Additionally, he drew the interest of Robert Duffy, an executive at Reuben Thomas Inc., marking the beginning of a fruitful collaboration.

Throughout his career, Jacobs has continually pushed the boundaries of fashion, earned widespread acclaim and solidified his status as one of the industry’s most influential figures.

The Remarkable Journey of Marc Jacobs:

Marc Jacobs’ illustrious career in the fashion industry is marked by a blend of creativity, innovation, and social consciousness. Starting as a stockboy at the avant-garde Charivari boutique in New York City at the age of 15, Jacobs quickly showcased his talent by designing and selling hand-knit sweaters while studying at Parsons School of Design. His early success led to collaborations with Reuben Thomas, Inc. under the Sketchbook label and opening Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc. with Robert Duffy in the mid-eighties.

Figure: Robert Duffy & Marc Jacobs in 1984, when their partnership began, wearing some of Marc’s original sweater designs.

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In 1986, Marc Jacobs took a significant step in his career by launching his own label, supported by Onward Kashiyama USA, Inc. This marked the beginning of his brand, and he debuted his collection under the Marc Jacobs name.

The subsequent year proved to be a milestone as Jacobs was honoured with the prestigious Perry Ellis Award for “New Fashion Talent” by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). This award solidified his status as a rising star in his reputation as a visionary in the fashion industry.

Building on his success, Jacobs continued to ascend in the fashion world. In 1988, Jacobs and Duffy joined the women’s design unit of Perry Ellis as creative director/vice president and president, respectively, after the company’s founder passed away. During this time, Jacobs also managed the design operations of several women’s licensees. In 1992, he was honoured with The Women’s Designer of the Year Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. That same year, Jacobs introduced a groundbreaking “grunge” collection for Perry Ellis, known for its unconventional pairings and unique style. Although it was praised by critics, the collection struggled commercially, leading to Jacobs’s departure. Nevertheless, it brought him global acknowledgment, earning him the title of the “guru of grunge” from Women’s Wear Daily and contributing to his CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year win.


Figure: Naomi Campbell and Kristen McMenamy Photographed by Steven Meisel, Vogue. December 1992


Marc Jacobs International Company, L.P., a licensing and design firm, was established by Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc. in the fall of 1993. Jacobs created his first complete menswear collection in 1994. After being named creative director of Louis Vuitton in 1997, Jacobs designed the brand’s first ready-to-wear collection. For his Louis Vuitton collections, Jacobs worked with a wide range of well-known artists, such as Richard Prince, Kanye West, Takashi Murakami, and Stephen Sprouse

Model: Gisele Bündchen

Photo: Condé Nast Archive

Model: Michele Hicks

Photo: Condé Nast Archive


Figure: Marc Jacobs’s Debut Collection for Louis Vuitton


Jacobs debuted his secondary line, Marc by Marc Jacobs, in a spring 2001 runway show, marking the beginning of a prolific career that saw him earn a record-breaking nine CFDA awards, including Womenswear Designer of the Year, Accessories Designer of the Year, and Menswear Designer of the Year, with over 20 nominations, making him the most nominated designer in CFDA history.

The company’s expansion continued with the opening of the first multi-brand store in the U.S. on Boston’s Newbury Street in August 2004, and three more locations in Los Angeles opened their doors in May 2005, marking the company’s ongoing growth. The first free-standing store in Europe opened in The Palais Royal in Paris in January 2006. In 2007, Marc by Marc Jacobs introduced its first eyewear collection, along with the debut of a children’s line called Little Marc Jacobs and the release of the fragrance Daisy in September.

Figure: THE KIDS COLLECTION by Marc Jacob


Figure: OUTERWEAR collection by Marc Jacob


With the formation of a new company in 2009 in partnership with Sumitomo Corp., the Marc Jacobs business in Japan saw a fresh start.
In May 2009, Kate Moss, Justin Timberlake, and Anna Wintour co-sponsored The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, which was presented by Jacobs and Duffy. The firm also released a new fragrance for ladies called Lola, which many consider to be the most successful fragrance introduction of the year.

Figure: Kate Moss in Marc Jacobs at the 2009 Met Gala “The Model as Muse.” Photo by Getty Images.


2010 saw the debut of a new men’s fragrance called Bang in addition to store openings in Milan and Chicago. 2010 brings store openings in Chicago and Milan as well as the launch of a new men’s fragrance, Bang. In January 2010 Jacobs was presented the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by France’s Minister of Culture in honour of his significant contribution to the arts and in May he received the CFDA award for Womenswear Designer of the Year. The company launched its e-commerce site in September 2010 and continues to expand its digital presence.

Jacobs was appointed Diet Coke’s new creative director in February 2013. Jacobs dedicated a year to give the brand a “stylish and light-hearted” facelift in celebration of its 30th anniversary.

After his appointment at Louis Vuitton, Jacobs had quadrupled the company’s profits, transforming it from a luggage company into a major player in the world of fashion. Highly sought-after cult pieces were produced through collaborations with artists such as Richard Prince, Julie Verhoeven, Takashi Murakami, and Steven Sprouse.

However, in October 2013, after the Spring/Summer 2014 show, it was revealed that Marc Jacobs would leave Louis Vuitton to focus on his own line.

Figure: Marc Jacobs Leads Black Parade for His Final Louis Vuitton Show.


The Marc Jacobs brand is known for its avant-garde and fine arts-driven advertising campaigns, which frequently showcase cultural icons and artists instead of conventional fashion models. These campaigns are typically set in minimally staged environments and photographed by renowned photographers. In 2015, Jacobs unveiled a widely acclaimed lifestyle campaign featuring a diverse array of artists, celebrities, and cultural figures, including Sofia Coppola, Cher, Willow Smith, Winona Ryder, Daisy Lowe, and Anthony Kiedis.

Later, in order to concentrate on the growth of his primary brand and cater to a more upscale clientele, Jacobs announced the closure of his subsidiary label Marc by Marc Jacobs in March 2015.

In September 2020, Jacobs launched Heaven, a polysexual brand that transcends gender norms and is geared toward a younger audience. Each piece of clothing had a company signature to honour its heritage and provide fresh meaning for a younger, more trendy audience. Young, up-and-coming celebrities and trend-setters like Iris Law was also highlighted in the campaign.

Figure: Heaven by Marc Jacobs, for everyone


Marc Jacobs dedication to company extends beyond fashion, as he remains deeply committed to philanthropy and community engagement. Through their ongoing involvement with over 75 charities worldwide and continued support for various charitable projects, Jacobs prioritize giving back to the communities where they operate stores and beyond, reflecting their enduring commitment to making a positive impact beyond the realm of fashion.



Ripa Sunjida

Department of Textile Fashion and Design (DoTFD)

Bangladesh University of Textiles (BUTEX)

Editor’s note on the author: Ripa is a smart, hardworking girl who is creative and perceptive. She writes very well and her iteration of WGSN’s trends is a living proof of the statement. She is currently writing on different exclusive trends defined by WGSN and sharing them with everyone by Fashionnovation blogs in an easy and accessible way for all. We wish that she becomes a world-class trend analyst and writer in future.

You can read her other articles: Men’s Elegance Unveiled: London Fashion Week S/S 24 Blends Modern Romance and Soft Grunge Trends

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