Marc Jacobs is such a disappointment.
I remember seeing a picture of him in--was it Vanity Fair? Way back when. Marc Jacobs with his long hair and his big nose, in the buff, in bed, with only a wisp of sheet covering the jewels. He seemed so American, kind of anarchic and trashy, puckish; he seemed like a lot of fun. He seemed like a lot more fun than stale, stately, resolutely "hetero" Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and the rest of his peers. They were Nantucket and the society pages, walking through some croquet or polo game somewhere in their stiff little "relaxed" fit suits. He was...not.
The problem with Marc Jacobs is that, while he's always seemed like a lot of fun, his body of work has always seemed like much ado about nothing. While it was somewhat radical at the time to put grunge on the runway, and slapping a hefty price tag on the stuff might have been viewed as some sort of fashion-forward dadaism, it was also, ultimately, nothing new to the overwhelming majority of his audience, many of whom (raises hand) had been wearing thrift store and dog-eared for decades. Jacobs got out of bed quickly. Always photo-ready, he got dressed in a hurry and arrived fully prepared for all this hype, harnessing all that puckishness for maximum publicity. I got bored just as quickly.
The fragrances weren't much more exciting. Straight up gardenia is swell, but hardly seemed in keeping with his agenda. It started to feel like he had no real agenda. The real agenda was personality--which might have been fine, had more of it found its way into the work. The first male fragrance, Marc Jacobs Men, was a little more promising. No one save Diptyque seemed to be doing much with fig at the time, and who besides weirdos had heard of Diptyque? Sadly, it only got worse from there. Very early on, I came to the conclusion that Jacobs was someone I would most definitely kick out of bed.
The line went belly up but the fragrances, with several regular additions (most visibly, the "Splashes") continued. Jacobs started over, regrouping artistically if not personally. The new line was supposedly truer to his own muse. It was alleged to be super cool but struck me then, as now, as something approaching Deconstructed Dowdy. Who besides Sofia Coppola and Chloe Sevigny can pull that off? The ads, shot in stark Polaroid by Terry Richardson, didn't help me make out the clothing's possibly redeeming nuances. Splash Pear, Cotton, Fig, Cucumber, and Biscotti didn't seem very subtle either.
A few years ago, Jacobs went into recovery. He became very confessional. Given his propensity for self-publicity, this hardly endeared me more to him. He gave interviews, often in the nude, it seemed. One spread, in W I think, showed off his newly buff bod amidst his chi-chi digs as if he were simply another commodity in the place, interchangeable with the trendy artwork hanging on the walls. He came out in a big way, which seemed more than a little odd to me, thinking back to that playful picture in bed. The differences were notable, though. Granted, he was younger before, but he seemed to like his body the way it was, and didn't care what you thought so much, enough to leave it all playfully ambiguous.
I can't say the latest fragrances have been disappointments. That might imply I'd approached them with high hopes. Lola is, to me, just plain silly. Like Daisy, it seems hellbent on assuring everyone around you that you did in fact wash your hair this morning. The bottle seemed like dowdy on steroids. Still, Bang, the latest "masculine," promised something, however unsure I was just what. Yes, the ad photo suggested more of same: nearly naked Marc Jacobs, the privates covered not by a sheet but the fragrance. True, looking tediously buff, tattooed to within an inch of his life. True, looking more aloof than playful. Still, I guess I hoped for a masculine in quotes, something audacious, something which delivers on that puckish promise from the early mock boudoir pose.
Instead you get faint woods and spices in something which looks like one of those vintage themed Avon bottles. That makes it sound a little more exciting than it is, but I'm already too bored to grasp for better descriptives. Bang doesn't merit descriptives. Oddly, Jacobs recently said that he decided to pose for his own fragrance because it felt more personal. Me, I would have settled happily for a more personal fragrance--but this seems in keeping with the marketing approach of his product, not just the clothes and the fragrances but his physical, if not spiritual, self. Marc's body shouts at you. The fragrance, positioned over his crotch, whispers. This kind of overcompensation reminds me a lot more of straight male culture than gay. Like most straight guys, the fragrance doesn't stick around long to make sure you're as satisfied as it promised you'd be during its come on. Let's not ask for the moon when we have the star, I guess.