Aretha Franklin gospel tunes, romantic water view, peonies and lilacs for days — just some of the makings of an upcoming fashion wedding, and not the one that’s been speculated about endlessly.
On Tuesday evening, Marc Jacobs president Robert Duffy will marry Alex Cespedes in Provincetown, Mass., where Duffy has a house and the company, a store. And where gay marriage is legal.
This story first appeared in the April 15, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We have been living our life together and sort of making steps towards this. But it really didn’t become like a thing that I would do [until recently],” Duffy said over the phone from Milan, where he will host a party tonight at the firm’s recently opened store. “It just never entered my mind.”
Duffy implied that after dating “so many people” over the years, he had been cynical about his prospects for a lifelong relationship. But that changed one evening last summer, on a blind date. “My friend had been telling me, ‘This guy is perfect for you,’” he recalled. “Literally, I walked into the restaurant and said, ‘I hope it’s that guy over there.’ I sat down and it was great. He’s the love of my life and a wonderful man.”
Cespedes first broached the subject of marriage several months ago, triggering some self-examination on Duffy’s part. “I’ve always fought for equal rights for gay people. I’ve always done fund-raisers, and I’ve always been out there politically for it,” he said. “It’s just something that I never really thought about [personally]. And then I realized I actually can do this. I actually can be legally married. In the state of Massachusetts I can have the same rights as everybody else. I’ve always had a house there. I spent summers there as a kid, and I always considered Massachusetts sort of like my home. All of a sudden, everything started making sense to me. And I knew it was something really important to Alex.”
A native of Paraguay, Cespedes is a recently naturalized U.S. citizen who works in real estate at KG Properties of New York. He is, according to his future husband, “my complete opposite.” For starters, Cespedes is quiet and religious. While the former trait has not rubbed off on Duffy, he now finds himself at church on Sunday — though not without compromise. “I’ve sort of gotten him out of the Catholic thing and into the Episcopal thing just because we’re gay,” Duffy explained. “I’m like, ‘Alex, I cannot stand watching you put money in that collection basket.’ Because the Catholic church doesn’t exactly like gay people. I mean, they have enough gay people working in their organization, but according to them, we’re going to hell because we’re gay. I just don’t believe I should give money to them if they don’t like me.”
The wedding date was chosen for pragmatic reasons: It follows Sunday evening’s fete celebrating the “reopening” of the Marc Jacobs Provincetown store after an upgrade from 500 square feet to 2,300.
Right now, the nuptial plan is for a tight guest list of 86, including numerous company employees with whom Duffy is close. No doubt to deflect disappointment, he noted some nearest and dearest did not make the cut: “I have 14 godchildren. There’s not enough guest houses in this little town of 2,000 people,” he said.
The ceremony, which Cespedes prefers to occur outside, weather permitting, will be performed by a Unitarian minister. Jacobs will serve as Duffy’s best man, and longtime friend Mauricio Ledesma, as Cespedes’. The cake will be chocolate and the suits black Marc Jacobs (but not black tie). The rest of the plans have been left to Duffy’s assistant Marshall Vickness, who has proven himself an eager wedding planner, albeit one instructed to keep things easy.
“He asked what kind of napkins,” Duffy quipped. “I was like, ‘Whatever the restaurant has, that’s what we’re using.’”