NEW YORK — For the first time in the 13-year history of Marc by Marc Jacobs, the company has made public the news of two key creative hires — creative director and design director — occupied by someone other than Marc Jacobs himself.
“He’s still the boss,” said Robert Duffy, president and vice chairman of Marc Jacobs International, when asked what the appointments of Katie Hillier to the role of creative director, and Luella Bartley to design director of women’s ready-to-wear, meant for Jacobs and the secondary line. “He’s as involved as he wants to be. It depends on the season.”
Marc by Marc has always been more Duffy’s than Jacobs’ baby, even more so since Jacobs has expanded the Marc Jacobs designer label and the Louis Vuitton behemoth. While Jacobs remains the boss at large of Marc by Marc, Hillier will oversee everything pertaining to its women’s collection. The current men’s team remains intact and will continue to report to Karl Aberg, global design director of men’s collections. Hillier, based in London, has worked in a freelance capacity on Marc by Marc for 10 years, beginning in handbag design before eventually overseeing the watch, eyewear and jewelry areas. “She has a million ideas. She likes to work with the same type of person I like to work with,” said Duffy, noting that Hillier’s hire was a decision made with Jacobs’ full approval.
“I am very excited to have Katie here in her new role,” said Jacobs. “Her creativity and energy inspires me and everybody she works with. She is a great leader. She is a team player and a great friend to Robert and me.”
Duffy added that “Katie is allowed to staff the team any way she wants.” That included hiring Bartley, a fellow English designer, for whom Hillier designed accessories in the early days of Bartley’s own rtw collection, Luella, which she ran from 1999 to 2009. Bartley has also been credited with reinvigorating the Mulberry handbag line with her capsule collection for the brand in 2002. Duffy was careful to emphasize that Venetia Scott, Marc by Marc Jacobs’ longtime stylist and artistic director, remains very much active in her roles. All three women are entrenched in the London fashion scene and will continue to be based there, which Duffy does not see as a problem. “You can work anywhere now,” he said. “You can have fittings via Skype. You can do whatever you want.”
Naming Hillier and Bartley to their respective titles is major news for Marc by Marc, which, by Duffy’s own admission, was “getting a little stale.” The look has always been based in youthful irreverence, often with an eye toward the Seventies, a decade Jacobs is known to love. Recently, the clothes have been increasingly retro-minded. Reshuffling was in order. When Duffy and Jacobs launched their secondary line in 2000, they were the only game in town, igniting a market that had previously been a fashion dead zone — no Phillip Lim, no Alexander Wang, no Alice + Olivia. A cultlike following ensued for Marc by Marc, which led to a small village of stores on Bleecker Street in New York’s West Village, as well as rapid expansion into licensed categories. While the company saw — and maintains, according to Duffy — great success with the ancillaries, such as fragrance, it took its eye off the ball elsewhere.
“The competition has become too great,” said Duffy of the contemporary market. “We have an issue with the ready-to-wear. I knew it because I pay very close attention to company-owned retail stores and I knew what was happening. We started out really strong in denim, and then we just let it go. We rested on our laurels and it hurt us.”
Yet during an interview, Duffy was upbeat, invigorated by the prospect of change and challenge. He said to expect to see Hillier and Bartley’s influence around fall 2014. In addition to tweaks in design direction, there will be improvements in quality. Duffy — who loathes the words “fashiony” and “trendy” — wants to return to the label’s history of doing special capsule collections with more “interesting” designs to offset the casual collection mainstays. “I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, but I do want to introduce new products,” he said.
It’s no coincidence that these changes come a little more than a year after the company experienced a corporate shuffle, replacing founding president Carolyn Risoli with Liz Fraser, who had previously been senior vice president and general manager of the label. Fraser came in and “started kicking ass — you can quote me on that,” said Duffy, who is prone to overenunciation to drive his point home. “She just sat down in front of me and said, ‘I. Need. To. Change. Everything.’”
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews