Marc Jacobs Talks CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award, Grunge, and Justin Bieber’s Fragrance

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Photo: Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin

Marc Jacobs in his 2011 CFDA Journal portrait.

At 48, Marc Jacobs is one of the oldest honorees at this year’s CFDA Fashion Awards—but that doesn’t mean he considers himself prepared for his prize: the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award.

“When I think of Lifetime Achievement, the first thing that comes to my mind is some venerable actor who hasn’t been in a movie in 30 years whom the Academy is honoring,” Jacobs said in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily. “Lifetime Achievement seems quite final to me. I [prefer to look at it] as an ‘In-the-Process-of Award.’”

While he’s certainly nowhere near the end of his career, he has had a lifetime’s worth of successes, failures—“At a certain point you think we want to keep going but have we just used up all of our get-out-of-jail-free cards?” Jacobs said of the time after he was fired from Perry Ellis—and scandals to keep him busy. And who can ignore his massive influence?, seen most recently when Justin Bieber released a fragrance bottle that appeared shockingly similar to that of Jacobs’s Lola perfume.

“We just had a conversation about it,” Jacobs said of the look-alike perfume, which came to his attention via Google Alerts. “Coty said, ‘Do we sue them?’ and I said, ‘You know what? Let everyone else say what they want … We’re not going to do anything about it.’”

In fact, Jacobs practically defends Bieber, saying, “A quote I always bastardize but I really believe in, is something Chanel said: ‘He who insists on his own creativity has no memory.’”

 Jacobs touches briefly on the new fashion stars of today, but remains secure in his relevance.

“Just like in pop music and in the art world, people always want new work from the artist that they like but they also want new artists,” he said. “I don’t think one changes the other. There’s always room for new designers, new musicians, new artists, new writers. Madonna, I don’t think is showing any signs of slowing down, but that doesn’t mean Lady Gaga isn’t taking over the world.”

But for all the looking forward, Jacobs also does a little looking back: When WWD’s Bridget Foley asked him what his favorite show has been, he said, “My favorite show of all time will be grunge,” referring to his now-infamous Spring 1993 collection for Perry Ellis. 

“It was probably the most liberating thing. Because it was when I honestly felt like I couldn’t stop designing because I was genuinely so inspired by the music that was going on, the photography that was going on, new girls, this idea of beauty in imperfection. There was so much more to it than making plaid shirts and flowing silk dresses. It wasn’t about that. It was about a sensibility and also about a dismissal of everything that one was told was beautiful, correct, glamorous, sexy. I loved that it represented a newness. I think that’s how people dress now. I think that moment hasn’t passed.”

In related news, get the lowdown from this year’s other CFDA nominees.

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