Designer Crib Sheet

Marc Jacobs Opens Up

In a candid conversation at the 92nd Street Y on Wednesday night, the designer talked about his battle with substance abuse, his tattoos – and the challenges of his career.

Following a more corporate-angled discussion at WWD’s CEO Summit just two days prior, Marc Jacobs took the stage at Manhattan’s 92Y last night for a public chat with Fern Mallis as part of her Fashion Icons conversation series. “I hope he’s not all talked out,” Mallis acknowledged before calling Jacobs to the stage. But, of course, he wasn’t: Jacobs effused a more personal quality—unabashedly speaking about topics like drug abuse and family throughout the course of the evening.

Since launching his eponymous label in 1993, Jacobs’s name has become synonymous with a quirky outlook on American sportswear—a perspective that’s hardly wavered within his over 20-year career. Though despite his perceived mega-success, Jacobs is the first to admit that his ride to the top hasn’t been perfect. In fact, his discussion with Mallis highlighted the many upstart efforts it took (at least three) before Jacobs was able to establish a solidly performing brand that outlasted threats of bankruptcy. Still he admits, “I don’t think I’m very rich. I think I’m very comfortable and very lucky but I’ve never been uncomfortable—I’ve never not worked.”

But now with two namesake labels, countless fragrances, a job as creative director of Louis Vuitton, and an upcoming cosmetic line at Sephora under his belt, Jacobs could easily be considered one of America’s most influential designers around. Below, some of his most memorable quotes of the night:

On Studio 54, where he’d take his books at night and go straight to school in the morning:

“It gave me an unhealthy curiosity about substances and anonymous sex. I wasn’t the only one by the way.”

On his 33 tattoos, some of which include a Simpsons cartoon of himself and (his personal favorite), a couch:

“Kids on the beach like them.”

On Victoria Beckham, who later starred in one of Jacobs’s campaigns:

“Victoria was on the cover of a tabloid with a counterfeit [Louis Vuitton by Stephen Sprouse] graffiti bag. That’s how I met her actually. I sent her the real one.”

On his low points:

“I don’t throw cell phones. I don’t hurt people, I only hurt myself.”

On a Louis Vuitton fragrance:

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“That was one of the things I pitched in the beginning. About a year ago the talk became more serious—they are working on developing a fragrance now.”

On remaining sober after stints in drug abuse rehabs:

“I wouldn’t say I’m 100% sober. I’m not perfect. Maybe I’ve had a glass of wine, or a glass of whisky, or a joint, or other things…”

On being considered to replace John Galliano at Christian Dior:

“Yeah it was a big discussion that went on for a long while. It was very flattering and very torturous. I never dreamed of being a couturier…It came down to my psychiatrist asking me, ‘How is this going to improve the quality of your life?’ and I said ‘It’s not.’”