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Marc Jacobs' new era: ‘I'm a little scared’

As fashion's provocateur prepares to go it alone, we remember the moment when he first revealed his fears

There’s nothing more exciting than a new era in fashion. We’ve just sent the first of our re-designed issues to print – marking, quite literally, a new chapter for Dazed & Confused. As we emerge from a trance of sleepless nights and long days in the office, it seems New York fashion week has continued to drag its heels over an 11-day schedule during which, like previous seasons, only a selection of designers make a real impression. But we endure the snowstorms and the unnecessarily long week for the highlight of New York: Marc Jacobs.

Jacobs is about to embrace a new era of his own. The king of New York, who began his career with a grunge tribute that went up in flames, is set to turn around $1 billion profit under his own namesake brand. This season, fashion’s own provocateur is going it alone – no more Louis Vuitton – and he’s handed over the reigns to Luella Bartley and Katie Hiller at Marc by Marc Jacobs. In anticipation of his show later today, we look back at his intimate talk with Peter Marino at London’s Tate Modern. It was the first time we’ saw Jacobs out of context. 

“Actually, I’m a little scared. I mean it wouldn’t be me if I sat here and pretended to be super confident about everything. There’s a kind of healthy fear that I have – it’s how I operate. On a good day I believe it’s going to be amazing and on a bad day I think I need that other place to hide. But anyway, today I’m in a good place. I think it’s going to be great. 

 “On a good day I believe it’s going to be amazing and on a bad day I think I need that other place to hide” – Marc Jacobs 

In a very small way and I landed this big job (creative director of sportswear brand Perry Ellis) at 25 years old. I was always trying to please other people – I thought that was my job. I thought that was done by making the person who hired you happy, by listening to what they had to say and doing what they told you to do. I found that that didn’t really make me very happy, it just made me busy! I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer and never wanted to be anything else really. I thought about what moved me and what has always inspired me and what I’ve always had a primitive connection to and it’s contemporary art, music and pop culture. So, this was a moment in New York following a big cycle of glamorous women in very provocative low-cut dresses and I was young-er, like half my age, I’ve 50 now! So I was about 25, and there was something going on in music and in art – there was a shift in the way models looked and the music that I was listening to was called grunge.

“I bought a plaid flannel shirt on St. Marks for $2 and we turned it into a $2,000 evening gown” – Marc Jacobs

So, for my grunge inspired collection for Perry Ellis I sort of started with this idea of high and low. The girls wore plaid. I think, I bought a t-shirt or plaid flannel shirt on St. Marks Place in New York City for $2 and we turned it into a $2,000 evening gown So, I liked the idea of elevating things that were everyday, in the now and were low-impact. Anyway, I got fired after this collection! Hopefully it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, because LVMH came knocking and hired me to work for Louis Vuitton.

I guess there’s a plus and minus to doing the Marc Jacobs Louis Vuitton thing. I loved it and I’ve learnt a lot from living in Paris. I don’t know what the future will be and I’m just sort of like lets see, lets see how it goes. I’ve always admired Nicolas. You know, I’m curious to see what he’ll do you. I mean we have such different aesthetics. I guess I’ve gone through kind of ups and downs about it, but the thing is before me there was no ready to wear. There were no shoes; there were no jewellery and no menswear – there was nothing. So, I had an opportunity that was so wonderful. I was the first clothing designer there. There were all these stories of houses bringing in new designers. But I think things need change, they just don’t stay the same. I’m just really glad that somebody who I really respect and admire and I think is a great talent is there. I’m just curious to see what he does."