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Marc Jacobs’ Collection
“Even if you complete the puzzle, you get a new puzzle. There’s nothing wrong with getting a new puzzle.” – Marc Jacobs
It was the heady days of the 1980s, and fashion designer Marc Jacobs’ star was definitely on the rise. In 1986, he designed his first collection bearing the Marc Jacobs label. A year later, at just 24 years old, he was the youngest designer ever awarded the fashion industry’s highest honor, the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Perry Ellis Award for “New Fashion Talent.”
He then joined the women’s design unit of Perry Ellis as creative director/vice president and won the Womenswear Designer of the Year award in both 1991 and 1992. He was yet to turn age 30.
Marc Jacobs was clearly a force to be reckoned with. His star was no longer rising. It was directly overhead.
It was then that Jacobs designed his infamous “grunge” collection for Perry Ellis, dressing runway models in a mix of silk shirts made to look like flannel, thermals made of cashmere, Doc Marten boots, knit beanies and other apparel that would fit better in an underground Seattle club or at a Nirvana concert. One critic wrote that it looked as if the outfits “were put together with the eyes closed in a very dark room.” The fashion world was aghast. It got him fired.
Time to get a new puzzle.
The resilient designer quickly bounced back, producing his first full collection of menswear. And in 1997 he began a 16-year stint as creative director at Louis Vuitton, transforming the 150-year-old company from French trunk maker into a full-scale fashion house and quadrupling the firm’s business.
Indeed, before Instagram had its influencers, there was Marc Jacobs. In the days and weeks leading up to each New York Fashion Week, the entire fashion world waited with bated breath to see what he would do this time. And he never disappointed, season after season. His runway shows were packed out like rock concerts, standing room only, with everyone craning to see what the gifted designer and trendsetter had come up with.
Designer Becomes Collector
With such a keen eye and appreciation for modern aesthetics, it’s not surprising that the talented designer also took an interest in collecting contemporary art. It happened this way: Around 2000, he went to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and saw some work from featured artist Mike Kelley that he immediately connected with. He later visited a gallery and saw more work from the same artist. Upon learning that the prints were for sale, he excitedly called a friend who was an art collector, and the friend emphatically told him, “Don’t buy anything!” He then began to teach Jacobs about art and how to collect it. (The prints ended up being his first purchase as a “collector.”)
Jacobs’ work at Vuitton took him to Paris, which inspired him to consciously seek out the company of such renowned artists as Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince and Yayoi Kusama. This enriching association developed and honed his aesthetic sense even further. Over the years, he accumulated a large collection of paintings, jewelry and other objects that he displayed proudly in his home.
…and another new puzzle
In April 2019, Marc Jacobs started a new chapter in life when he proposed to his long-time boyfriend, model-turned-candle-designer Charly Defrancesco, using a flash mob at a Chipotle restaurant. Two days later the couple was married in a lavish ceremony with their reception at The Grill in New York.
In the very same month, they put their five-story West Village townhouse up for sale, and a few weeks later bought a 6,000-square-foot Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Rye, N.Y. The townhouse sits on a tree-lined block and includes a garden courtyard, a rooftop terrace and an elevator that connects all of the levels. An article that appeared in Architectural Digest in 2017 described the home as “a tour de force of old-school glamour and serious connoisseurship.”
The Manhattan townhouse was a wonderfully spacious place for Jacobs to showcase his collection. But because his new home doesn’t have a lot of wall space for paintings, Jacobs decided to sell some of his collection. “As much as I will have a difficult time parting with them,” he says, “I just felt it’s time to give myself this window to start again.”
Quite simply, Jacobs is downsizing. Which means he doesn’t have room for all of the art he’s collected over the years. For those interested in acquiring contemporary art by some of the best artists of the past half century — and acquiring something that once belonged to Marc Jacobs — that’s good news.
“This feels like really a new chapter,” Jacobs remarked. “I'd like to live a life outside. I just sit home and watch TV in the five-floor townhouse, you know? It's like, I'd like to be doing that with a beautiful view with dogs running around in the yard.”
It's a win-win situation. Jacobs will get his wish, and a few fortunate people will get some fantastic artwork.
Many items in Jacobs’ collection will be sold at auction in New York between November 2019 and April 2020. Sotheby’s Home has also acquired some pieces from the collection, including:
- Contemporary painted skull, gold
- Sheep sculpture. This eclectic piece, almost 18 inches long, is made of carved wood.
- Japanese bamboo vases, set of two. These early 20th-century pieces are made of signed and monogrammed brass and feature depictions of bamboo on the front. One has a spider-web pattern etched on the side as well.
- Lobster candle holder
- Jonas upholstered armchairs, set of two. Covered with a soft mohair velvet fabric, the plush beige chairs have a low profile (height is just 30 inches) and rectangular tapered legs in a mahogany finish.
- Rectangular tray
- Curtis Jere tree sculpture. This antique brass piece has lovely round leaves that create a spherical effect. It sits on an ebonized wood base.
- Apparatus Studio articulating table lamps