By and  on September 13, 2007

"Robert and I discussed this today and we were like, you know what, we don't want to show here anymore." - Marc Jacobs

"Marc and I were up from Friday until Monday. Marc wasn't drinking, he wasn't doing drugs, he wasn't at the Mercer Hotel having a cocktail while everybody was at the show waiting. He was with me backstage." - Robert Duffy


NEW YORK — Angry? Times two. After reading industry comments about their show's late start in WWD on Wednesday and fielding questions about the widely circulated rumor that on Monday night, while his guests sat tapping their heels waiting for his show to begin, Marc Jacobs was in the Mercer Hotel restaurant or bar (depending upon the version), he and Robert Duffy placed separate calls to this paper to respond. Jacobs was primarily concerned with the lateness contretemps, while Duffy, president of Marc Jacobs International, wanted to address the still-widening Mercer rumor.

"I know that Marc didn't leave the showroom until 8 [on Monday night]," Duffy said. "He called me up and said, 'I have to go back home [the Mercer Hotel] and take a shower.' He was [at the Armory] at 8:30 for the rehearsal. So when all these people started calling me and telling me he was at the bar at the Mercer at 9:30 or 10, that's ridiculous. I was with him."

Jacobs offered a similar account, if more colorfully stated. "That is bullshit! That is bullshit!" he retorted. "I was at the f---ing office until the last fitting was over. I came back to the hotel — I hadn't been here in three days! I hadn't showered in three days! I slept on the couch in my office for 20 minutes three nights in a row — anyone at my office will tell you that. I got 20 minutes sleep Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night. The first shower I had was Monday at 8 before the rehearsal of our show. I did not have lunch, I did not have drinks, I did not have tea at the Mercer, I walked through the lobby; I live in this hotel. I hadn't been there — ask the reception at the hotel. When they saw me on Monday, they were like, 'We haven't seen you in days.' I lived in my office for three days in a row....My boyfriend was downstairs having dinner. I wasn't. I was at the rehearsal, I was at the office until the last minute. I took 20 minutes to shower and shave — I stank like a raccoon! I could not go to the show like that."The notoriously late starts of Jacobs' shows have become something of an industry legend, and the source of considerable frustration and anger among many audience members. But though apologetic, Jacobs and Duffy are not in a groveling mood. They noted the difficulties in staging three New York shows in short order — Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs and men's Marc by Marc Jacobs — especially while continuing to up their production aspects, as with the Charles Atlas film that was shot on Sunday night and screened at the collection show on Monday. They noted, too, that scheduling this season around Rosh Hashanah brought particular challenges beyond their power to control. Meanwhile, Jacobs, typically neither a complainer nor a braggart, expressed what everyone here knows — that he brings something special to New York Fashion Week.

"I'm responding to what was written in Women's Wear," he said, "all those people saying, 'We have families,' 'We have families,' 'We have families.' Talk to my sample room. Talk to the 60 women who didn't see their families for six weeks.

"I'm very sorry that I inconvenienced anyone by having a show two hours late," he continued. "I really, really am, and so is Robert. We're all very upset that people got their noses bent out of joint. But I think this is so unfair. We do a huge production show, we try to give fashion and do a major fashion show in New York. I have no say in the show schedule, the show schedule has been moved up a week, and another week, and as far as I'm concerned we showed two weeks early not two hours late.

"Another thing, everybody talks about these families they have to go home to. I mean, every person who works in every factory in Italy, and every person who works in our sample room, they didn't see their families for six weeks so that we could do this show two weeks early. So I'm really appalled that people have absolutely no perception of what it takes to do things. And when we complain about the show schedule our voice is not heard, nobody does anything about it, the CFDA does me absolutely no service whatsoever as an American fashion designer."Jacobs said he is seriously considering taking his Marc Jacobs show to London or Paris. "I don't really feel a part of the American fashion community," he said. "I really feel like an outsider, I think we all do, and we feel unloved here, so we want to go somewhere else."

Duffy struck a more conciliatory tone. He said that when Jacobs called him on Wednesday to suggest a shift to Paris, he was open to the thought, "because people here just don't appreciate us." The transition would be an easy one because of the Louis Vuitton connection, where Jacobs is that company's creative director. "But then you take Marc Jacobs, which is an American company, and show it in Paris to make it easier? That's the wrong thing to do because you feel that you're not supporting the American fashion industry....We are so proud to be in American fashion. We are proud to do the quality of work we do. We're proud of the presentations we do, and there are certain people who appreciate it and we love that.

"We really do want to be a part of this community," Duffy continued. "We really don't want to inconvenience anybody. We're sorry. It wasn't intentional, it wasn't a 'f--k you' or anything other than we were trying to do the best work for these people."

Jacobs has long had a rocky relationship with the CFDA and the spring dates are among the issues that have rekindled the antagonism. He charged that a key champion behind the shift was Suzy Menkes, who wanted to get back to Europe in time for the Jewish holiday, and that the CFDA caved to her pressure. (Diane von Furstenberg has said that serious pressure was exerted from various sources, including retailers.) When asked about Jacobs' delay, Menkes told WWD, "I would like to murder him with my bare hands and never see another Marc Jacobs show in my entire life," and in Wednesday's International Herald Tribune she delivered a scathing review in which she referred to the collection as "a freak's costume party." She also accused Jacobs of pilfering not only from Rei Kawakubo and Martin Margiela, whom he has oft sighted as inspirations, but his LVMH compatriot John Galliano as well.Jacobs, in turn, accused Menkes of transferring her wrath over the late start to her review. "I've never denied how influenced I am by Margiela, by Rei Kawakubo, those are people that inspire my work; I don't hide that. For her to turn this into this hate fest for me and my collection I think is ridiculous....I expect people, whether we're two hours late or two hours early or we don't show at all, to look at what they see: the clothes. Of course there are comparisons to other things. I'm a designer living in this world who loves fashion...I'm attentive to what's going on in fashion, I'm influenced by fashion, that's the way it is. I have never ever hidden it. I have never insisted on my own creativity, as Chanel would say. I have my interpretation of ideas I find very strong. Jil Sander is influenced by Comme des Garçons, Miuccia Prada is influenced by Comme des Garçons, everyone is influenced by Comme des Garçons, Martin Margiela. Anybody who's aware of what life is in a contemporary world is influenced by those designers. She [Menkes] wants to observe a Jewish holiday, but I start a show two hours late [and] she gets her nose bent out of shape."

"We respect the Jewish holidays," Duffy said, while explaining that the rest of the supply chain wasn't necessarily on board. "The factories in Italy didn't agree to open earlier."

And while the Italians were at the beach, Jacobs was in the studio. "I work my ass off," he said. "I don't take vacations, I don't have homes all over the world, I don't ride horses: I f---ing work for a living. Again, like this idea, you have a family? OK, well that's nice, I don't, and I work. So leave me alone and don't come to the show next time."

Or at least keep your outrage to yourself. Jacobs and Duffy say they couldn't be happier with the state of their business, particularly its recent creative roll that had its most recent expression in that remarkable show on Monday night. "I'm actually as happy as I could possibly be," Jacobs said. "I think I did a great job. I love what I did."

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