Personalities

Exclusive: Marc Jacobs on the glory of grunge

Twenty-five years after changing the course of fashion, Marc Jacobs offers a refresher with the Redux Grunge Collection 1993/2018, and tells us why the time is right for a reissue.
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Photo Courtesy: Peter Lindbergh / Marc Jacobs

The grunge collection created by Marc Jacobs in 1993, instead of ending up as an embarrassing aside in an otherwise illustrious career, turned out to be a watershed moment—precipitating the way we dress today, with everything and all of time flattened into an endless panorama from which we cherry-pick at will.

Some WWII army pants here, a little Victorian lace there, your boyfriend’s flannel shirt, your girlfriend’s silk nightgown, finished off with some Doc Marts, dog tags and dollar-store glasses.

The greatest thinkers are always ahead of their time. Thankfully, we now have a second chance to play catch up.

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To celebrate the 25th anniversary of that seminal collection, Jacobs has unveiled Redux Grunge –a reissue of 26 key looks, faithfully recreated down to the last detail, from fit and fabrication to prints and embellishments, all the way to the shoes, socks, jewellery and hair barrettes. 

In an exclusive interview, Jacobs opens up about authenticity, the aftershocks of grunge, and his reasons for a grunge redux.

Scroll down to read the full interview:

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Redux Grunge Collection 1993/2018 Marc Jacobs, campaign shot by Juergen Teller.

What is it about this moment that makes you feel the grunge collection and its attitude would again be fitting for our current fashion landscape?

The grunge collection I originally did for Perry Ellis was a reaction to what I saw my actual friends wearing everyday. Fashion at the time was very extreme and glamorous and “done up” but my friends and the models I worked with never actually dressed that way in real life.

They would come in wearing a vintage silk nightgown and Doc Marten boots. That’s how it originated. Today I think this whole ‘streetwear’ movement speaks to the same idea. Fashion now is embracing what people are wearing and how they wear it in their daily lives.

Grunge in 2018 isn’t going to shock the way it did in 1993—what do you hope people take away instead this second time around?

The collection is about classic, somewhat banal, pieces but done in an elevated way—sweaters out of the best cashmere, flannel plaids printed on fine silks. I hope people find a luxurious element in the pieces that make up this collection.

[Marc Jacobs and models at the backstage of Perry Ellis Spring/Summer 1993 show.]

Did the harsh reactions in 1993 surprise you? And did it affect you in terms of your creative process after that?

I don’t know if it surprised me, but yes it obviously affected my career. It was and has remained one of the collections I feel the proudest of —the first time in my professional career I was unwavering in my determination to see my vision come to life, without creative compromise.

Why did you decide on an exact reproduction of the looks instead of reworking or riffing on them?

Authenticity is important to me and I wanted to reissue the collection exactly as we did in 1993. My team and I looked through the original collection, which I think was about 60 looks or something.

We went through old photos and videos, sourced archived pieces and chose 26 looks that we felt captured the spirit of the collection, and still felt fresh and relevant for today. We worked to create the looks as close to the originals as we could – we used the prints from the same mills, same embroidery techniques, same fabrics.

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Redux Grunge Collection 1993/2018 Marc Jacobs, campaign shot by Juergen Teller.

25 years ago it was people like Juergen Teller, Corrine Day and David Sims reimagining fashion photography— are there any young talents you admire for doing the equivalent today?

There are always new creative talents, defining how we see and experience fashion. Not only is it interesting to discover, it’s vital to the evolution of the industry. But for this, I really wanted to remain authentic to the spirit so I’m thrilled we have a great campaign shot by Juergen Teller. I’ve worked with Juergen for years; it was great to reconnect and collaborate on such aspecial project

How does a Marc Jacobs collection usually take shape? 

It’s a process. We approach a new collection in the same way, regardless of the label that goes into the clothes.

It begins with my team and I discussing what we want to do at the present time—a lot of researching, looking at fabrics, muslins. This project was particularly interesting because we started out knowing what all the clothes would look like in the end. But it was still a process of discussion, trial and error.

[Marc Jacobs at the backstage of Perry Ellis Spring/Summer 1993 show.]

What are some of the elements that feed into your work? Is music still a major influence the way grunge was in 1993?

Music has always been an inspiration throughout almost all of the collections we have done. For me, and for the people I know, fashion is just one part of the art of living. So all the elements of creativity – music, film, art – have a way of inspiring how we see the world and what we create.

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Redux Grunge Collection 1993/2018 Marc Jacobs, campaign shot by Juergen Teller.

You’re also visibly and actively part of the larger industry—attending other designers’ shows, buying their collections. Is it important for you to be connected to your peers?

I’m a shopper and I love the experience of seeing the clothes in person. I have a lot of great friends in the industry who I like to support and see their latest works. At the same time, there are people who inspire me today – people like Karl at Chanel, Mrs. Prada, Raf at Calvin.

To find out more about Redux Grunge Collection 1993/2018, visit www.marcjacobs.com

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