Marc Jacobs On Beauty And Diversity
Last week’s Marc Jacobs ready-to-wear show was not without controversy, with many decrying the rainbow dreadlock-inspired wigs he used for the hair and sparking a furious Twitter debate about cultural appropriation . But one thing that is sure is that Jacobs has never been a designer to shy away from pushing the boundaries of conventional beauty, and it’s precisely his all-encompassing vision that has made his make-up line such a success. “I don’t think we set out to ruffle any feathers,” he says of the choices he makes regarding models in his beauty campaigns. “The path of least resistance is just to stay in the middle of the road, and I’m just not really interested in that path.”
Jacobs’s latest beauty campaign model and muse is Kaia Gerber, daughter of Cindy Crawford, who was just 14 when she shot her first campaign with him. “I worked with Cindy many years ago when she walked some shows for me,” he says. “Kaia looks so much like her mom, but besides looking beautiful, she is also a very intelligent young woman, extremely professional, very polite… just kind of natural. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, which is what I said when I presented her with the ‘breakout model of the year award’ in New York a fortnight ago.”
But for Jacobs, focusing on age is missing the point. “I hate to bring up the age thing, because then it’s like you’re making it about age,” he says. “For example I’ve also worked with Jessica Lange, and when I met her I just thought ‘how great would it be to work with Jessica Lange?’ in the same way that I thought ‘how great would it be to work with Kaia Gerber?’. It wasn’t ‘how great would it be to work with someone under 16 and how great would it be to work with someone over 40?'”
It’s the same idea of inclusivity that Jacobs tries to bring to his beauty line, which is now available at John Lewis counters nationwide. “Every woman can wear make-up,” he says. “It’s like making clothes in a way. The way a show looks from the audience is one thing, but up close there’s the workmanship, there’s beautiful fabric, there’s research and development, and there’s so many millions of creative choices that go into the design. “With the make-up, we sit there in meetings with wet wipes and I’m usually drawing with the Highliner (a gel eye crayon and one of the standouts of the collection), and then putting on powders, and everyone’s like ‘look at this mascara!’, or someone is trying a great nail colour on, or their eyes are done, and we’re all like ‘feel this! try that! Look how much colour this delivers!’. It’s well documented that Marc himself is partial to trying the products out on himself, too – see his Instagram to see him showcasing black nail varnish and silver glitter eyeshadow – but says that choosing his favourites would be like “trying to choose your favourite child”. Let’s hope there are many more offspring to come.