Five of Marc Jacobs’ Most Iconic Fashion Moments

Pin It
Steven Meisel, Naomi Campbell Marc Jacobs Louis Vuitton 1998
Steven Meisel, Naomi Campbell and Marc Jacobs at a Louis Vuitton store opening in 1998Photography Rose Hartman/Archive Photos/Getty Images

As Marc Jacobs celebrates 40 years of his eponymous brand, we look back on five of the label’s most legendary fashion moments both on and off the runway

This year Marc Jacobs celebrates the 40th anniversary of his brand, yet it’s hard to imagine so much time has passed – for fashion’s favourite show pony remains as youthful and relevant as ever. The American designer first started creating under his namesake label in the 1980s, but it was his 1992 collection, elevating a grunge streetwear aesthetic to luxury fashion, which first showcased his uncanny ability to tap into the emotion of a time, and then predict the zeitgeist.

Jacobs’ career hasn’t been without controversy – his tardiness has become something of fashion folklore – but his longevity is due in no small part to his earnest ability to learn from his mistakes, and then continue to engage, and re-engage, with the world around him. As a result, his influence on fashion expands far beyond the fantastical universes of his runways and into the commercial sphere: his avant-garde campaigns shot by Juergen Teller forever changed narratives around how fashion was to be photographed and advertised.

To celebrate 40 years of Marc Jacobs, we look back on five of the label’s most legendary fashion moments both on and off the runway.

1. Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2008

Designer runway shows are known for their tardiness, but Marc Jacobs pushed the patience of attendees to breaking point when he made them wait two hours before presenting his S/S08 collection. And the absurdity didn’t stop there: the show opened with the designer taking a bow before models paraded in reverse order (starting with the final look) to a dramatic soundtrack of Ravel’s Boléro. The beauty of the provocative collection – heavy on dishevelled satin slips, trompe l’oeil underwear, and cashmere spliced with sheer inserts – was enough for most to excuse Jacobs’ lateness. Except for Suzy Menkes, whose review – “a bad, sad show” – ignited a short-lived feud with the designer. After S/S08, Jacobs had a ten-year streak of absolute punctuality, until his S/S19 show, which started 90 minutes late.

2. Marc Jacobs Autumn/Winter 2012

There is perhaps no other collection that better encapsulates the emotional genius and deft craftsmanship of Marc Jacobs than his A/W12 runway show. Around a set constructed entirely from paper by artist Rachel Feinstein, models twisted and turned in garments inspired by references as diverse as the French Revolution and the original street style star Anna Piaggi. The collection was daring in every sense: tailoring was padded out to exaggerated proportions, patterns and textures were layered in outlandish propositions, and several looks were topped with larger-than-life floppy fur hats (a nod to Piaggi, who was never seen without a hat). But, in a testament to his brilliance, Jacobs so perfectly balanced eccentricity with elegance within each silhouette.

3. Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2023 

Marc Jacobs has publicly acknowledged on several occasions the incredible influence of Vivienne Westwood on his career. So, it was only fitting that his S/S23 collection, Heroes, presented shortly after the late designer’s passing, was an emotional ode to her legacy. There were overt references to Westwood in the form of chunky platform boots and peroxide-tipped wigs, but Jacobs used her signature DIY punk aesthetic as the starting point for a new chapter in his oeuvre: one in which he has begun to play fearlessly with volume and form.

4. The Juergen Teller Campaigns

The creative partnership between Marc Jacobs and Juergen Teller may be one of the most important in recent fashion history. The two started working together in 1997 with a campaign featuring Kim Gordon performing in a violet Marc Jacobs dress – a raw image that starkly went against the glossy, aspirational fashion shoots of the time. The two would continue to provoke and amuse with images such as a 12-year-old Dakota Fanning wearing Marc Jacobs in 2007 and Victoria Beckham falling into a human-sized Marc Jacobs shopping bag. For the brand’s 40th anniversary, the duo reunited to shoot a quirky campaign featuring the likes of FKA twigs, Cindy Sherman, and the designer himself, outside the Marc Jacobs headquarters in New York.

5. The Viral Video Campaign

On 10 October 2023, a video posted to Marc Jacobs’ social media accounts featured a woman, donning the designer’s towering Kiki Boots and XL Sack bag, tumbling down a steep set of concrete steps. The video was quick to go viral – with no caption, many commentators angrily questioned the appropriateness of the rather violent scene. The star of video was, however, professional stunt performer Tereza Kubova, known for creating provocative content for the likes of Jean-Paul Gauthier and Alexander Wang. As it turned out, Kubova walked away from the fall completely unscathed.