Marc Jacobs is one of, if not the most, currently authoritative voice in American fashion, has been an influencer and a challenger to the status quo of American sportswear. his design philosophy of being unique, individualistic and ahead of the curve is at its essence what makes him so internationally renowned. He has melded and shaped American romanticism in different forms and presented them recurrently with fresh angles and twists in every collection.
In referencing the collections of Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton (for which he has been a creative director for since 1997), from a glance it may not seem there is an underlying thread of consistent influences by the design, where one but in actuality what is touched upon season after season is American romanticism at its core.
Marc Jacobs grew up with his maternal grandmother in Manhattan, who encouraged his grandson's interests in design. Upon his first collection Jacobs was crowned according to Vogue the 'dauphin of grungy, understated cool'. His time as design student in Parsons and following stint at Perry Ellis, whose grunge collection led to his dismissal in 1993, is American fashion folklore and charmingly a collection to which he fondly references still today (Marc by Marc Jacobs, Fall '09)From his clothes you can see that he believes in clothes, accessorization and adornment as a means to transform and improve the wearer for the better. He himself sets an example, as, having been a frumpy, shy designer with a drug and drinking addiction, he was ushered into rehab and emerged in 2008 a clean shaven, well toned and jubilant designer who was willing to pose nude but with a handbag for one of his campaigns (Steven Sprouse x Louis Vuitton).
Jacobs’ ability to revise traditional elements into pieces which are wearable and modern (his new look homage in his recent Louis Vuitton collection, Marry Poppins and the American woman for the Marc Jacobs Spring 09 collection) purports his ongoing influence of ongoing change in fashion, yet being on the forefront and the harbinger of such trends. His knack of noticing small details and adding a twist to them (such as creating romantic dresses which looked different in the front than it was to the back)
More than stereotypical trends and credos which designers often fall into a tangent upon, Jacobs’ approach to creating and explaining his influences are more simplistic than flowery. As an example, in his latest eponymous collection, responding to a reporter’s reference to a pot of gold as he played ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ to the runway he responded 'I guess we all see what we want', signifying his democratic take on ready to wear fashion. His collections for the season were described as romantic, nostalgic with hint of subversion, and if we looked at most his collections in the past taking into account the context all these three elements could have well applied. He further goes on to say that he and his design team were ‘tired of the whole discussion of modernity and what's new in fashion’, again rejecting the formula of having to constantly reinvent in the cycle of fashion but comfortable with returning to roots and borrowing elements from the past, such as silhouettes, patterns, textures and styling.
Upon being criticized by respected American womenswear designer Oscar de la Renta that he was a mere copyist, The New York Times retorted on Jacobs behalf that "unlike the many brand-name designers who promote the illusion that their output results from a single prodigious creativity, Mr. Jacobs makes no pretense that fashion emerges full blown from the head of one solitary genius".