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Jacobs, Marc

ellis perry fashion women’s

B. April 9, 1963

Birthplace: New York City, New York

Awards: Perry Ellis Golden Thimble Award, 1984
         Chester Weinberg Gold Thimble Award, 1984
         Best Student of the Year, Parsons, 1984
         Council of Fashion Designers of America, Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent, 1987
         Council of Fashion Designers of America, Womenswear Designer of the Year, 1993
         Council of Fashion Designers of America, Womenswear Designer of the Year, 1997
         Women’s Designer of the Year, VH1, 1998
         Council of Fashion Designers of America, Accessory Designer of the Year, 1999

Marc Jacobs graduated in 1981 from the New York High School of Art and Design. After graduation, he immediately enrolled in Parsons School of Design to pursue his dream of becoming a fashion designer. While at Parsons, Jacobs designed a collection of sweaters for Charivari, where he was working as a stock boy, which won him Parson’s Perry Ellis Golden Thimble Award. After graduation in 1984, Jacobs began designing for Ruben Thomas, Inc. In 1986 Jacobs decided to strike out on his own, and he launched his own line. His sophisticated, playful designs garnered praise from the fashion press and brought him to the attention of Perry Ellis executives.

In 1988 Jacobs was named vice president of women’s designs at Perry Ellis, and his business partner, Robert Duffy, was named president of women’s wear. At twenty-five years of age, Jacobs not only was designing the Perry Ellis women’s collections, but also was overseeing the design and production of twenty-five women’s product licenses. Jacobs rose to the challenge, revitalizing the women’s collections with his energy and passion. Only one year later, in 1989, Jacobs was named head designer for Perry Ellis. For the next three years, Jacobs combined imagination and sophistication in the Perry Ellis lines. Jacobs, who had become known for classic sporstwear, deviated from his standard repertoire with the 1993 Perry Ellis women’s collection and launched a trend for which he would become infamous: grunge. The collection featured little flower print dresses layered with plaid shirts and paired with Birkenstocks. While some applauded the collection, many were appalled at the prospect of paying $1,500 for clothing that looked as if it came from the thrift store. Perry Ellis executives agreed, immediately fired Jacobs, and canceled the production of the line.

Jacobs staged his triumphant return to the fashion arena in 1994 with the launching of his own line. The collection received rave reviews from the press and sizeable orders from retailers. Jacobs and partner Duffy nurtured their shoestring operations, even cutting samples on their shared desk, untïl Jacobs’s work caught the attention of Moët Hennessy—Louis Vuitton (LVMH). LVMH provided financing for the fledgling company and named Jacobs as the artistic director at LVMH where he developed the first ready-to-wear line for LVMH. Jacobs also assumed consulting positions with Iceberg in Italy and Renown Look in Japan. After the successful introduction of the Jacobs designer collection, Jacobs launched a secondary line in 1995: Marc Jacobs Look. Although successful in Japan, the collection was not well received in the United States and was canceled.

During the late 1990s Jacobs signed several licensing agreements including licenses for fine jewelry with Charles Turi, scarves with V. Fraas, handbags with Austin Designs, sunglasses with Colors in Optics, hats with Patricia Underwood, and furs and outerwear with Birger-Christensen. Jacobs’s future plans for his company include leather goods, eyewear, fragrance, and men’s ready-to-wear collections. He also plans to reenter the women’s bridge market with a new women’s secondary line targeted to the business casual market in 2001.

Marc Jacobs is at the forefront of talented young, American designers. He designs beautiful, wearable, classic sportswear in luxurious fabrics, playful prints, and rich colors. He draws inspiration for his creations from music, street fashions, and historic costume. Unlike other designers, Jacobs designs only two collections a year, instead of the standard four to six, a strategy to keep demand ahead of supply and ensure that each collection is eagerly anticipated by both consumers and the fashion press.

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