"Why is there this division all of a sudden between people in support of me and people against me? How did this happen? I haven't done anything to anybody! I look at Karl Lagerfeld and John Galliano—everybody has their shtick. And just because this wasn't my shtick two years ago, it's a problem."
Marc Jacobs is upset. He is also really buff, debatably character-disordered, and, at present, unusually sober. He's practically a psychological case study: A lost little boy with an aching, damaged soul, living in the public eye. (With diamond studs in his ears, to boot.) At least, that's the angle Marie Claire executive editor Lucy Kaylin takes, as she profiles America's Most Important Fashion Designer in this month's issue of GQ.
There are few remaining champions of Mark Jacobs. Affection for him has eroded over the past year in particular, as he has emerged as a gym-and-Sponge Bob Square pants-and-Victoria Beckham-obsessed mean girl, someone who lets the masses wait ages for his fashion shows to start, only to stick his tongue out at them from his own turn on the catwalk afterwards. This is not the fat and greasy Jacobs that garnered notoriety and respect for showing "couture grunge" for Perry Ellis over fifteen years ago. And I suspect that Kaylin, who wrote of her inalienable right to employ a nanny in her recently-published book the The Perfect Stranger, doesn't have much sympathy for a man who openly hates his mother. (In her book, Kaylin was very insistent about how much her children must love her despite (in spite?) of her choices. Jacobs probably made her uncomfortable.) When he was seven years old, Jacobs's father died from ulcerative colitis (a condition he also has), and then watched his mother take off on, as Kaylin puts it, "a chaotic period of power dating and failed marriages." This underscored the young Jacobs's belief that his mother was, inherently, a person who made poor choices:
I hate the term 'bad taste,' but my mother wasn't, like, a very chic person. Jane Fonda in Klute was definitely one of her role models, much to my father's dismay. But when I'd watch my mother getting dressed up to go out on dates and she'd be putting on three rows of false eyelashes and some hideous fox-trimmed brocade coat with a wet-look miniskirt and knee-high boots...
And then something happened in high school. Jacobs won't talk about what it is, but it caused him to cease all communication with his mother, brother and sister from that point forward. And how does Jacobs see himself in this, all these years later?
Utterly cold on the subject. I never believed that idea that you're supposed to love the members of your family. I hate the idea of obliged feelings—I just think that's a huge waste of time. But I've had enough conversations with people to realize that I'm the oddball in this category. I can't think of anyone as detached from their family as I am. Or as detached as I say I am.
In a way, his newfound obsession with fitness and dieting make sense: Of course someone who feels that there are no guarantees in life and who suffers from an uncomfortable medical condition that led to a loved one's death is going to ultimately seek solace in focusing entirely on the self. If no one else is going to love you, you'd damn well better love yourself. So Marc creates a body he can see the attraction to. But that's my 2¢. Marc says:
Exercising is fun — the best part of my day. I'm such a catastrophic thinker that when anything happens, I figure I better just live life to the fullest — buy a diamond necklace, get another tattoo, work out... Whatever makes me feel good, I want more of. If work is going well, I want to do more clothes. If the gym thing is working for me, I want to be bigger. If getting my hair cut makes me look younger, I want to play with the color.... 'I want to look hot.' That is such a dumb thing to say. But what's so cool about it is that you can say it. Yeah, I want a bunch of muscle queens at David Barton Gym to think that my body looks dope. And I might think that was an awkward and dumb thing to say, but I still like that I'll throw it out there. Because it's true, you know?
Of whether his ever-growing collection of tattoos will be weird when he gets old he says, "I don't know if I'm even going to get to be 80. And who would want to see me at 80, anyway?"
Well. some of us would. Let's hope he stays sober and healthy. I'll bet there are still many creative tricks up his fashionable, neurotic sleeve.