By  on November 17, 2004

There are certain presumptions one can make about a designer of Marc Jacobs’ stature — that he is famous and influential, that his genius is the result of a singular vision that is unleashed on a runway each season, that he must agonize over a critical review. Yet from his perspective, none of this is a true representation of the real Marc Jacobs.

“It’s such an uncomfortable thing to say I’m an influential designer,” said Jacobs, designer of Marc Jacobs International and artistic director of Louis Vuitton, during a dinner conversation with Bridget Foley, vice president and executive editor of WWD and its sister publication, W, in which he set out to demystify certain ideas about who he is.

“I didn’t decide to be influential, I just make the things I like,” he said.

Doing his thing for more than 20 years, Jacobs is the rare designer who has been around long enough to become a fixture at the top of the fashion pyramid yet still maintain the excitement and freshness of a new talent. But he insists the long and often difficult path to his current success was never plotted out. Rather it was the result of the hard work and dedication to fashion shared by himself and Robert Duffy, his career-long business partner. Maintaining his youthful appeal, the 41-year-old designer added, probably has as much to do with his embrace of collaborations with young artists and designers.

WWD: Let’s start with the notion of influence. Can you articulate what makes a designer influential?

MJ: The customer. First of all, it’s such an uncomfortable thing to sort of say, ‘Oh, I’m an influential designer’ because I didn’t decide to be influential. I just wanted to make the things that I like. But what I mean by the customer is that, yes, there was, as you introduced, this generation sort of embraced — for whatever reason — something that I was doing and it started to sell, they started to buy it, people started to see it, the magazines were covering it, etcetera, etcetera. And so I guess it’s the appearance of things in everyday life that mean you’ve been influential.

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