One never knows where conversation might lead during a showroom visit for a collection preview. Sometimes it’s a quick in-and-out, with talk fully focused on the clothes. Sometimes not. With Marc Jacobs, often not.
During a preview on Tuesday night, Jacobs was fully focused on fittings and determined to start Wednesday’s 6 p.m. show on time [he did] after last season’s break from recent good form. He did offer a bit of personal news: He and his fiancé Char Defrancesco are decamping from their West Side town house and moving to Rye, in Westchester County, New York. Seriously.
Jacobs, who projects as a consummate urbanite, is in fact heading to the suburbs. OK, there may be a downsized NYC apartment in the game plan, specifics TBD. But Jacobs and Defrancesco have purchased a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Max Hoffman, the importer of foreign luxury cars into the U.S. The house was later owned by the philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau, and most recently, Alice and Thomas Tisch, from whom Jacobs and Defrancesco purchased it.
Why the move?
“I’m 55 years old, I’m getting married,” Jacobs said. “This feels like really a new chapter. I’d like to live a life outside. I just sit home and watch TV in the five-floor town house, you know? It’s like, I’d like to be doing that with a beautiful view with dogs running around in the yard. I mean, unlike Robert [Duffy, his longtime business partner, also at the preview], I’ve never had a house outside the city. Never. Wait till you see it.”
The idea started germinating more than a year ago, over July Fourth weekend, when the couple visited their friends Rachel Feinstein and John Currin at their house at Orient on Long Island’s North Fork. “I fell in love with Orient,” Jacobs said. “And I fell in love with the idea of [a house on the water]. We had such an amazing time. We rode bicycles and went swimming, I got stung by a bee, all the kind of s–t that happens. And the dog was running and we visited friends and made food and — I know that all sounds ridiculous. But it felt very different, and for the first time in my life I was like, ‘I really like this.’ This is not like, ‘I need to get away from [anything].’ It just felt [great].”
Thus the house search commenced. It started on Long Island, went through Connecticut and ended in Rye, at a house that sounds like a gem. “This house, which was not on the market, but we were told about,” Jacobs said. “We fell in love with the pictures and we had to refrain from just exploding when we got there. It was so much more magnificent than we thought.
“It’s like you know when people say when you find the right one, you’ll know it?” he continued. “I sat in the living room and I was like, ‘I could be happy here not even reading. I need nothing. I could look out the window and go to that meditative state of just being happy, of just being.’ And I’m not somebody who talks like that. I’m not Donna Karan.”
The move from city to suburb isn’t the only upcoming change in Jacobs’ domestic status. He and Defrancesco are tying the knot in April. Yes, he’s excited. No, he can’t talk about it much. “I got the word from Michael [Ariano, Jacobs’ publicist] that there would be no more discussion about this wedding until after the show has happened,” he said. Ariano is in charge of the nuptial logistics.
Returning to matters of fashion, a perusal of Jacobs’ casting board revealed some expected models and some fabulous surprises — Christina Kruse, Guinevere Van Seenus and, drum roll, Christy Turlington Burns, who would close the show in her first runway appearance since the Nineties. “You know the story, I’ve told it a million times. When Robert and I started over at 113 [Spring Street], Christy had stopped doing runway. She said, ‘When you two go into business, I will come back and do your runway.’ And she flew herself in with her mom, she did our show and that was the last time she did runway. And [this time] we gently nudged her and she agreed to, after 24 or 25 years or something like that, to do the show. That is amazing. And the dress is pretty spectacular on her,” he indicates a photo on his lineup board of Turlington in an imperfectly beautiful black dress. “I mean, [it will be], when it’s done.”
As for casting in general, asked if the industry’s late-in-coming focus on inclusivity has prompted him to alter his approach to the task, Jacobs’ immediate reaction was to say “no,” but he quickly reconsidered. “I did look back at a couple of shows that we’ve done in the past and was kind of appalled,” he said, citing a Vuitton show in a palette of mostly grays and beiges. “We thought those colors would look beautiful with blonde hair, so there were very few women of color,” he said. “[Now], it looks so shocking to see.”
Jacobs recently discussed his shock factor at those shows with some people he works with, and one piped up that the agencies didn’t send a diverse range of girls. “I said, ‘No, you can’t say that,’” he said. “Because if we had asked, they’d have to find. It works both ways. [We’re not] the victim here. It’s just that people weren’t considering diversity in casting. I think we all are now, and we have to be. And I don’t think that’s difficult for us at all.”
Nor, these days, is it difficult to avoid fur, though Jacobs is disinclined to make a to-do about it. “I’m just not doing it, I’m not wearing it and I’m not using it, that’s all,” he said. “I don’t want to be judgmental about the whole thing. It’s just a very simple remark. I don’t want to wear fur and I don’t want to use fur. That’s all. And I don’t and I’m not. No more to say.”
Well, one more thing. “I don’t want to be late [starting the show],” Jacobs said. “And I want everything to be finished beautifully, so I’m a little concerned.”
Cue the visitor’s exit.