When THE Calvin Klein met Marc Jacobs!

11 August 2010

Calvin Klein, the most successful designer of his day, retired completely from fashion in 2003 and since then has just about disappeared from public life. Not for him the lifestyle of a fashion legend, forever appearing in documentaries about himself, holding retrospective exhibitions, gala dinners or even attending other people’s parties and award ceremonies. Most recently he took the opportunity to reassure NY Magazine that "I have nothing to do with any of it. I sold the company. I have nothing to do with it. . . I’m no longer involved in the fashion business" 

Meanwhile, Marc Jacobs, designer of the moment, naked star of his own fragrance ads and protagonist in his soap-opera style personal life has been interviewed by Klein for a profile in US Harpers. On the surface it seems a bit  . . . incongruous? But thinking about it, it’s brilliant to see Mr Klein back in the press and secondly – the pair have more in common than you might think. Although their womenswear aesthetic may be quite distinct, they are both famed for their provocative ads. If you think Marc Jacobs’ BANG was arresting, then remember Brooke Shields proclaiming “nothing comes between me and my Calvins” or semi naked Kate Moss and Mark Walberg. Also, if you think Marc has a busy schedule with Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs AND Louis Vuitton, then Calvin and his business partner built up their empire from scratch to include jeans, fragrance, menswear, homewear, cosmetics and the list goes on. They were both self-starters, starting their own lines soon after college and enjoying phenomenal success from early on. (OH! And they’ve both been in rehab!)

SO! They had plenty to chat about . . . Like getting naked -

MJ "Well, I did feel good about the way I looked, so it was easy and — well, a guy looks better to me with no clothes on than with clothes! How’s that?”

CK: "You’re not appealing to everyone, but you’re appealing to people who get it. You’ve got the naked picture; that’s a really big deal. I read somewhere that you were working out two and a half hours a day, six days a week. And on this diet that was very strict."

MJ: "I had 21 percent body fat four years ago. I was in and out of the hospital because I had flare-ups of ulcerative colitis. I was so ill. I ate nothing but junk food . . . So I went to a nutritionist and he said, “If you are 100 percent compliant with what I tell you to do, you will be in better shape than you’ve ever been in, and you will not have to have your colon removed.” I said, “Okay, sign me up.” He said no caffeine, no sugar, no white flour, no dairy from a cow, take açaí every morning, goji, noni, mangosteen, et cetera, omega-3, wheatgrass shots with ginger. The list is endless. [Then after his new healthy regime started to take effect] When guys started looking at me and asking me out on dates, I felt way better about myself. So it was hard to keep my clothes on, actually" [!!!!]

About the process of designing for men;

CK: "With your menswear collection, do you look at the clothes and say, Would I wear this?"

MJ: "In terms of having a business, I wanted to let it go beyond what my personal taste is. Basically, I’m in a kilt and a white shirt every day. So, you know, I don’t have a lot of scope, and I’m really picky about what I wear. Even if it’s weird, it’s very particular to me. And you can’t make a business out of what I would wear. We’d be out of business."

AND About working so many jobs simultaneously –

CK: "How do you separate them in your mind when you are doing your collections — Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton?"

MJ: "I end up being where I am. When I’m in Paris, I’m a foreigner. I’m a little bit detached. Like the Vuitton job, which is an amazing job, and I love doing it, but it’s kind of an alter ego. It’s so much more of an overt personality, it’s so about being recognized with the logos, and it’s so glossy and so extroverted — and it’s not who I am, but it’s a role I like to play. I’m an American in Paris being a French designer, having the people come with the embroidery samples and the button samples. It’s very French fashion design. I think of it like I’m in a movie. Like it’s not real.

Here in New York, I’m much more connected — where I’m in a gallery, and then I go to work or a museum or whatever. And my friends are here, so bits of conversation get taken to work, but I do end up doing what I have to do when I’m in the place where I am."

FASCINATING! – Its funny because we imagine that living Marc Jacobs’ life must feel like being in a movie too. And perhaps – just perhaps, that’s why Calvin chose him as the reason to come out of retirement for one day in order to meet him.


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