If Instagram were God, we’d be its loyal disciples – mindlessly swiping, zapping our brain cells and neglecting our therapist’s advice on self-worth. The main ingredients of Instagram are, of course, the selling of diarrhoea-inducing weight loss teas by various Kardashian-Jenners, unwarranted ads suspiciously tracking our search histories, and every single pap shot of ’90s Moss-Depp ever made. But, amongst this, lies hope. Hope that somewhere on the ’gram there’s a glistening messiah, a presence that speaks to us on a deeper level. We’re not talking about @notallgeminis (although they, eerily, do understand the masses), but Marc Jacobs. One time repeller of social media, Jacobs has eased into the role of a comforting, encouraging digital daddy, and we’re here for it.
“I am so appalled by the whole social media thing,” Jacobs told Suzy Menkes in an interview with Vogue, adding “I don't get it, it doesn’t appeal to me, neither does a computer, or working on a laptop.” But this was 2015 and things change. For this is not the Marc Jacobs we know and love today, and it all started with that accidental butt selfie, hilariously captioned: “It’s yours to try!”.
In today’s throwaway content culture, a celebrity nude is nothing new. From reality TV stars to Hollywood elite, unpacking the meat is a mere Google search away. But with each nude upload comes the PR-orchestrated apology in an attempt to salvage their highly-polished image and crumbling dignity (see the usual, “I apologise, I didn’t intend for anyone to see this!” or Prince Harry’s “classic case of me being too much army and not enough royal”).
Jacobs, however, flipped this age-old operation on its head. There was no statement of regret, no rehearsed script to follow and, thankfully, no awkward Blair Witch-style face-to-camera apology. Jacobs was totally, wholeheartedly honest as he dropped the mic with: “Yeah. I accidentally posted a pic of my bare ass and took it down. I was flirting with someone I met on Instagram. Meant to send it by DM. Oops, my mistake. I apologise to anyone it offended. I'm a gay man. I flirt and chat with guys online sometimes. BIG DEAL!”.
Big deal, indeed. Jacobs silenced the nude leak patrol in a bratty, totally warranted shut-down because he, frankly, didn’t care for this accidental slip; he’s normal like the rest of us (even if his preferred mode of transport is a private jet). Jacobs’ early defiance of being shamed was step one in his evolution into the digital daddy he is today – sticking a slick middle finger up at the trolls who dare to pass judgement.
Since butt-gate, Jacobs has formed a well-documented love affair with 37-year-old Swiss-born Char Defrancesco. In a long-awaited follow-up to his now famous, flash-mob proposal in Chipotle last year – the couple’s “favourite restaurant” – the duo tied the knot earlier this month in front of a guest list that would put the MET Gala to shame. From Debbie Harry to Debi Mazar, Lil Kim to Kate Moss – everyone worth naming was in attendance at the extravagant ceremony. But lavish set-up aside, Jacobs’ speech, which fashion critic Hamish Bowles reported on, was where he really let his guard down in a moment of heart-warming declaration: “Char, my love, in my darkest, loneliest moment you came into my life like some giant happy face and made me laugh and smile,” Jacobs said. “In that moment I felt safe and loved... what you have given me is... the dream of the happy forever.” In an industry full of hard nuts, where a smile is a sign of weakness, it was exactly the kind of openness that has moulded the Jacobs of 2019 into the role of social supporter, having shed his enfant terrible image some time ago.
Today, the designer uses his position and power to celebrate young creatives, by placing them under his tattooed bicep: whether that’s by collaborating on a hoodie with Ava Nirui, giving a shout out to writer Pam Boy, or hosting Tokyo-based designer Tomo Koizumi’s first collection at his Madison Avenue store. And while it may be fair to say many designers are public in their support for young talent, very few are as diligent in highlighting the strenuous behind-the-scenes making of a collection as Jacobs: sharing clips inside Marc Jacobs HQ followed by captions detailing the rigorous work that goes into producing some of the most highly-acclaimed shows of his 30-year career. His A-team, Katie Grand and Anita Bitton, make cameos throughout, but it’s the designer rightfully placing the factory workers, knit designers and production staff on a shiny pedestal, like the caring digital daddy that he is.
Jacobs is showing the world, one post at a time, that he’s happy, madly in love with Char Defrancesco and ultimately living his best life. Critics come and go but if there’s anything to learn from Marc Jacobs, it’s that sharing really can mean caring. He’s the digital daddy we didn’t ask for but certainly need in these toxic times, so when you’re aimlessly scrolling through your feed and stumble upon a post where the designer is shouting out his staff, his husband, his dog, or treating us to a throwback, take a second to remember that not all heroes wear capes. Some wear Stan Smiths.