It didn’t make sense.
Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.”
Targon could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Even in an industry known for its constant shake-ups, Targon’s turn at Marc Jacobs ranks as incredibly brief. A spokesperson for the brand declined comment beyond the statement, but industry insiders might not be all that surprised that Targon’s appointment didn’t last. He officially joined the company Feb. 2 as the first major public hire of Eric Marechalle, Marc Jacobs’ chief executive officer who joined the company from Kenzo in July 2017.
Though the specific nature of Targon’s role was never officially defined, it was understood he would oversee the lower-priced portion of the collection, which had become a focus of the house under the watch of former ceo Sebastian Suhl, even as LMVH abruptly decided to fold the Marc by Marc Jacobs contemporary collection into the main line in 2015. Shortly after that, the health of the business was called into question following a slew of store closings, staff layoffs and runway shows that remained critical hits but were distinctly downscaled in comparison to the mega-productions of just a few years ago.
Just as there have been significant management changes within the Marc Jacobs brand, there have been changes among the top ranks at LVMH. The French luxury conglomerate revealed a major executive reshuffle last November in which Sidney Toledano, the longtime ceo of Christian Dior Couture, replaced Pierre-Yves Roussel as executive chairman of LVMH Fashion Group, giving Toledano oversight of Marc Jacobs as well as Céline, Givenchy, Kenzo, Loewe, Pucci, Rossi Moda and Nicholas Kirkwood. (Pietro Beccari succeeded Toledano at Dior.) The appointments were made effective in the beginning of the year.
Toledano spent nearly 20 years as ceo at Dior, earning a reputation for his rare ability to manage creative leaders. It’s understood that since taking on his new duties at LVMH, Toledano has spent time with Jacobs, meeting with him during a very public trip to Paris in March when Jacobs attended the Balenciaga and Miu Miu shows, as well as his own flashy party for the launch of Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Shameless Youthful-Look 24H Foundation.
Jacobs has been particularly high-profile of late, professionally and personally. His fall show, full of exaggerated Eighties silhouettes and Saint Laurent-inspired swagger, was one of the few truly daring fashion expressions on the New York calendar. A month after he returned from Paris, Jacobs lit up the press by proposing to his now-fiancé Charly Defrancesco with the help of a flash mob at a Manhattan Chipotle. The following weekend, Defrancesco threw Jacobs a surprise 55th birthday party attended by Naomi Campbell, Lil’ Kim, Debbie Harry, Cindy Sherman, Sofia Coppola and Bette Midler.
Targon, who launched Baja East with Scott Studenberg in 2013 and continues to work on that brand with him, likely registered on the LVMH radar when Baja East was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize in 2015. Targon and Studenberg were early to the gender-neutral movement, establishing Baja East as an “ambisexual” collection of “loose luxury,” heavy on oversize cashmere sweaters, sweatshirts and track pants as well as more dressed-up satin dresses and undone tailoring. Neither had formal design experience; both hailed from sales backgrounds — Targon at Céline and Burberry, and Studenberg at Lanvin. They quickly raised Baja East’s profile with a flurry of press, backed up by very active social media accounts. (Targon has 46,200 Instagram followers; Studenberg has 34,200.) The same year Baja East was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize, the designers were among the finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.
Without further clarification from the company, it’s difficult to determine what exactly was behind Targon’s short-term turn at Marc Jacobs, but the timing of his departure coincides with Toledano’s first few active weeks in his new post and could indicate that he’s once again shifting strategy at the brand.