Marc Jacobs Illustrated Sees A Fashion Icon Nostalgic & Unfiltered

Fashion industry legends Marc Jacobs and Grace Coddington teamed up to illustrate the designer's 25+ years in the business.

Marc Jacobs Illustrated, $59.95, available at Phaidon.

There are a lot of biographies on fashion designers out there — but none are quite as personal as Marc Jacobs Illustrated. With looks drawn by longtime Vogue editor and pal Grace Coddington, the book is narrated entirely by Jacobs himself, complemented by winding, pink Takaaki Matsumoto text. And the tidbits are so good, you won’t want to put the book down (in fact, you’ll have to spin it as you go, making it easy to read and not so easy to read at the same time) — from the many times Jacobs was almost fired to his endless inspirations.

For the past three years, Coddington worked on more than 100 illustrations of standout runway looks throughout Jacobs’ reign as a grunge king. They date back to 1993, when he presented his iconic collection for Perry Ellis, to now, as the same supermodels strut his Park Avenue Armory runways. And to put things into perspective, the books pages are footed by a timeline of what was happening that year: such as the debut of eBay in 1995, the Great Recession of 2007, to now — which Jacobs so cheekily punctuates with just a series of mysterious, fading question marks.

Not only is the book a one-of-a-kind look at one of fashion’s greatest visionaries, it sees the outspoken designer on his own terms and in his own words — nostalgic and totally unfiltered. Could we, as self-dubbed fashion historians, ask for anything more? Below, our favorite excerpts from the nonfiction treat.

Illustration: Grace Coddington/ Phaidon.

"My first show under my label after being fired from Perry Ellis. Christy Turlington, who stopped walking in fashion shows in 1989 when she went back to school, kept her promise and returned to the runway for the last time — just for me! Amber Valletta and Shalom Harlow closed the show as Bride and Bride. The show was held at Tony Shafrazi ’s loft, and we bussed the girls there from my studio, which was just around the block. I was thinking about glam rock, and the soundtrack to the show was the New York Dolls. Donatella Versace came to this show, and when it was over, she gave me a standing ovation," on fall 1994.

Marc Jacobs and his dog, Neville.
Illustration: Grace Coddington/ Phaidon.

"It was the year when I first met, and the start of my friendship with, Sofia Coppola. It was also the year I collaborated with Sonic Youth on the video for their song “Sugar Kane.” The 1993 Grunge collection, presented almost six months earlier, in fall 1992 would be my last for Perry Ellis, where I’d been working since 1988. It remains one of my favorite collections because I’d followed my instincts, listening to the music of Sonic Youth and Nirvana. Looking at the photographs of Corinne Day, Juergen Teller, and David Sims. It started with a plaid flannel shirt I bought off a street vendor at St. Mark’s Place for two dollars. Kevyn Aucoin did the makeup and Oribe did the hair for this show, and the direction was 'no hair and no makeup.' The New York Times review said that a 'typical outfit looks as if it were put together with the eyes closed in a very dark room.' They didn’t mean this is as a compliment. I was almost immediately fired," on spring 1993.

"Twisted goth fantasy. Oversized and elongated crochet-trimmed and embroidered sorority sweaters, as well as a reference to Kurt Cobain’s cheerleader sweater with the Bobcats logo. Legendary New York drag performance artist Tabboo! collaborated with us on the prints, patterns, and motifs for this show. The shoes and boots had extraordinary platforms and heels. Any sharp turn could lead to a fall, so the girls all had to be great walkers. Another one of my favorites — it seems I love and often revisit the dark 'fallen angels' of my fashion fantasies. Incredible Marcel waves gelled into the girls’ hair, and fantastic gothic black eyes by François Nars inspired by Kiss and Tim Burton. Lady Gaga (as Stefani) modeled in this show, walking casually amongst the other girls. Marilyn Manson, Missy Elliott, Genesis P-Orridge, Sissy Spacek, and Susan Sarandon were among the many who starred in this incredible ad campaign by David Sims," on fall 2016.

Related Articles