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Ten times Marc Jacobs redefined beauty


TextAlex Peters

As Lila Moss is crowned the new face of Marc Jacobs Beauty, we took a trip down memory lane

To celebrate the launch of Marc Jacobs Beauty’s newest campaign featuring Lila Moss, which dropped yesterday, we decided to cast our minds back to all the times Marc had us gagging at his radical beauty looks. Some made headlines for all the wrong reasons, some defined whole trends, and others marked momentous beauty industry firsts. Let's start at the beginning...

Messy hair and radically minimal make-up at Perry Ellis

Before Lila, there was Kate. And in 1992 Marc Jacobs, a few years into designing womenswear for Perry Ellis and fresh off winning the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Women’s Designer of the Year Award, sent the OG Moss boss down his runway modelling a collection which would end with him being fired. The SS93 show in New York was an ode to the Seattle grunge scene with models wearing slip dresses with Dr Martens, plaid shirts and baggy khakis while Nirvana and Sonic Youth played in the background (Marc Jacobs would later go on to cast Frances Bean Cobain and Coco Gordon Moore in campaigns).   

Starring supers Christy Turlington, Helena Christensen and Naomi Campbell, the make-up was radically minimal with nude lips, flushed cheeks and thin brows, while the hair was long and messy.

The industry was shocked and appalled (fashion critic Suzy Menkes made “Grunge is Ghastly” badges in response to the show) however it was a defining moment for Marc Jacobs who sees it as his personal favourite, saying in an interview, “I’d never had any idea I’d be fired. But it’s still my favorite collection, because it marked a time when I went with my instincts against instructions, and I turned out to be right.”


Louis Vuitton AW98

For his first collection with Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs sent models, including Naomi Campbell, down the runway with seemingly bare faces. The stripped-back makeup complemented the minimalistic designs. Radically simple, and yet totally memorable, the parted hair, bare-face and sleek tailoring look is still replicated everywhere today. 


Richard Prince's Spooky Nurses

For his SS08 collection for Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs drew inspiration from Richard Prince’s Nurse paintings which featured on the cover of Sonic Youth’s 2004 album Sonic Nurse. With red lips, black eyeliner and lace masks over their mouths, the models walked down the runway in translucent white nurses jackets and hats.

Edie Campbell and the body paint

It’s the year 2013, British beauty Edie Campbell has just ditched her long, honey coloured 60s locks and is now sporting a jet black mullet. As if this wasn’t a dramatic enough makeover, that season Marc Jacobs decided to send her down his runway for Louis Vuitton SS14 totally naked, save for a g-string, feathered showgirl headpiece and Stephen Sprouse-designed body paint scrawled all over her limbs. Just like the rest of her, make-up was stripped back on the eyes and lips, but the brows thick and blocky.

Bleached eyebrows

The muted colour palette of Marc Jacobs’ AW14 designs was heightened by the hair and makeup. Bleached eyebrows washed out the faces of models whose razor sharp bobs were held back by fabric headbands, creating a health clinic vibe.


Lana Wachowski with her frosted pink lips

Can we just talk about that time when Marc Jacobs cast director and trans beauty icon Lana Wachowski in his SS16 campaign and she sported those controversial candy coloured dreads and frosted pink lips?

The designer received much criticism for his show that season after he sent mostly white models down the runway in pastel-hued cyber punk dreads, while his casting of Lana in the campaign was a big step forward in the way of trans visibility (the campaign also included Beth Ditto and her wife Kristin, Matty Bovan, and RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist Milk aka Dan Donigan.)

In an Instagram post announcing Lana as the star, Marc Jacobs wrote that “the spectrum of individuals... featured in our campaign personify this collection of fashion through their individuality. Collectively, they embody and celebrate the spirit and beauty of equality.” As for the use of dreadlocks, he wrote: "I apologize for the lack of sensitivity unintentionally expressed by my brevity. I wholeheartedly believe in freedom of speech and freedom to express oneself though art, clothes, words, hair, music...EVERYTHING. Of course I do “see” color but I DO NOT discriminate. THAT IS A FACT!"

Genesis P-Orridge channelling 1920s gothic chic

Following on from Lana in the previous season, the AW16 campaign featured pandrogynous icon Genesis P-Orridge. Photographed by David Sims and styled by Katie Grand, the Throbbing Gristle founder appeared looking every inch the beauty queen with their 1920s inspired pin-curled hair in platinum blonde, heavy kohl-rimmed eyes, rouged lips and thin penciled eyebrows. Speaking of his casting choice on Instagram Marc Jacobs wrote, “for me, Genesis is a sort of come-to-life definition of realness and authenticity and how being lost in an experience or new idea can result in growth and evolution.”

Winona Forever!

In 2016 Winona Ryder was announced as the new face of Marc Jacobs Beauty. A long-time friend of the designer, Winona first starred in a Marc Jacobs campaign in 2003, shortly after she was accused of shoplifting, among other things, a Marc Jacobs sweater. With make-up by Diane Kendal and hair by Guido Palau, the campaign was inspired by French actress Delphine Seyrig in The Last Year at Marienbad, a favourite of Marc’s. Moving away from the 90s goth aesthetic we know and love her for, here the actress is shown sporting a classic cat eye flick, underlined in white, a nude pink lip, block brows, and an elegant string of pearls. 

Adwoa sporting letter box red lips

Last year, to coincide with her British Vogue cover (Edward’s first), Adwoa was named as the new face of Marc Jacobs Beauty. Adwoa, whose first ever runway show was for the designer, told Vogue of the campaign, “Diversity is something that’s important to me and it’s something you always see with casting for Marc’s shows. It’s a dream come true to be part of his vision." Shot by photographer David Sims, Adwoa appears in a colourful scarf and large lilac hat. Make-up by Diane Kendal was kept minimal save for a lick of mascara and bright red lips, parted here to reveal Adwoa's much-love tooth gem.

Lila Moss by David Sims

When Lila Moss was revealed as the new face of Marc Jacob's beauty this week, it felt like a no brainer, not just for Marc Jacobs fans, but also for the designer himself.  “At just 6 years old, Lila’s strong character, demeanor and great beauty was already very apparent..." he explained when the announcement was made, continuing: "It was a bit surreal to have Kate in the studio with Lila as it brought back memories of the first time I met Kate when she was 18 years old." In the campaign shots, courtesy of legendary Sims, Lila sports a purple-flick cat eye and innocently locks eyes with the camera. It's the perfect pairing for the 16-year-old's first high fashion campaign. 

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