Marcup 2020: How Marc Jacobs is breaking Instagram
When you dust the year for fashion’s standout moments, among the gems that tumble out, some are just conspicuous clichés. They argue for size positivity, grit, celebrity, inclusivity, queering, voting rights, feminism and justice, while making a plea for velvet mascara or fishnet stockings that mask the not-so-velvety inner self.
Like Marc Jacobs. The exceptionally talented American designer who mixes fashion with audacity, design with diversity, make-up with dandiness, who makes style, both a verb and a noun. The former creative head at Louis Vuitton (his 16-year stint ended in 2013), and founder of Marc Jacobs, his eponymous brand that makes clothes, accessories and make-up, is on your cliché chopping board, given the pornography of his style ideas. Without which fashion would be saltless and sugar-free.
At first glance, Jacobs’ Instagram handle @themarcjacobs – the crux of this article – candied with the “Happy Monday” missives he sends to his 1.5 million followers is about unshackling gender-neutral expression. In drag or as a dandy. Whether it was in April this year when he made style Too-Tutorials during the global lockdown. Or in September, when he showed off his photo in British Vogue wearing a leopard-patterned oversized coat. By mid-October, he was promoting A New York Story, a 28-minute film shot by his loyal associate Nick Newbold, where Jacobs plays several roles – bouncer to concierge, cleaner to receptionist. It documents the days he spent at The Mercer Hotel in New York till the lockdown lifted.
Enigma in plain sight
Jacobs has been a buzzy, idiosyncratic fashionista for years now. Especially since 2012, when he arrived at the Met Gala in a sheer lace dress worn over white boxers to avoid the “boring tuxedo” look. Then, short skirts and tall boots, beard and neon nailpaint, funky bags and fedoras, the swirl has gone on for years.
In 2020 though, the “Six Feet Bitch” as one of Jacobs’ caps proclaims, upped the game. Blazers without bottoms, kitten heels with maroon pedicured toes, purple or blue bobs and always a string of white pearls as his most prized accessory. His Cleopatra-dark eyes, Balenciaga coats with fishnet tights, clunky boots under short-shorts, sparkling Boucheron rings, dazzling Cartier trinkets.
The more he showed of himself, his somewhat unwaxed legs, balletically balanced on heels, his tattoos, burgundy gloves and zebra tights, the bigger an enigma he became. For Jacobs, 2020 was not all about dressing up. His Fall 2020 show in February in New York – right before fashion took a fall in the pandemic – was an alluring “experiential” fashion spectacle. Available to view on www.marcjacobs.com, it had 54 extraordinary dancers directed by choreographer Karole Armitage, who co-mingled with 88 models. Some months down, on Instagram, Jacobs captioned it “Mood as Fuck” admitting that the live dance on the ramp had energised him creatively. What followed would become an ubiquitous line in the Jacobs’ 2020 narrative: Express Yourself in the Pandemic.
Perky hashtags stack Jacobs’ Insta posts like his rings and bracelets. #gratefulnothateful #Drasticclassic #Dressednotstressed #outofthewoods #selfcare #feelingtenfeettall #attitudeofgratitude are a few.
Loves, likes and comments pile up too, from the high and mighty of global fashion and luxury. Models Naomi Campbell or Bella Hadid to Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci, who responds often with his favourite emoji – the black heart.
Naked in his clothes
Jacobs’ maximalist shindigs appeal not because his scarves are from Hermes and jewellery from Cartier but because he gives them a mind of their own. The way he rolls inner conflicts and outer liberation, political and personal rights. From urging Americans to vote out President Donald Trump (Surrender Donald, said one post with the caption “Don’t mess with a b***’s shoes”) to mourning for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the associate justice of the US Supreme Court. The Black Lives Matter movement, the urgent need to wear masks outdoors or applauding Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for their victory, kept Jacobs on trend this year.
Love and lust come in plus sizes too at Marc Jacobs. Grey days are gay days, missing the husband means showing off black underwear with his spouse’s face printed on it. If Marc Jacobs’ professional trajectory is a business case study, his Instagram feed is vanity fare.
If you keep going back, you become the cliché. Not him.
Shefalee Vasudev is editor of The Voice of Fashion.
From HT Brunch, December 20, 2020
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