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Marc Jacobs

He is arguably the most influential fashion designer in the world—and definitely one of the most talked about. Marc Jacobs has a flair for drawing attention, whether the headlines are about the endlessly analyzed looks on his runway, his buff new gym body, or the ups and downs of his personal life.

Jacobs is, as many of these fashion chroniclers have noted, a bellwether, pointing audiences and buyers toward trends to come. A chameleon and a quick-change artist, he often mines a particular theme or style—mod, volume, layers, to name a few—only to discard it entirely the next season, just as the rest of the world is getting on board the train. According to Women's Wear Daily, he is one of the few designers "who can in successive seasons present collections that are diametrically opposed to one another yet look signature."

The Marc Jacobs stamp is that of unstudied cool, always with antiauthoritarian or outsider undertones—the irony is that between the various lines he produces under his own label and his work at Louis Vuitton, he is about as much of an insider authority as one man could be. Whatever his latest craze, the look is going to be pretty but not too polished, feminine but not too provocative, hip but never trying too hard. Having much-gossiped-about stars (from Lil' Kim to Victoria Beckham to his friend and muse Sofia Coppola) crowded into his front rows only keeps the headlines rolling off the presses.

A graduate of Parsons, the New York City native launched his line alongside his current business partner, Robert Duffy, in 1986 with the backing of a Japanese company. In 1989, Jacobs was appointed the creative director of Perry Ellis, but was notoriously fired in 1992 after presenting his then-reviled Grunge collection (now, naturally, hailed as a seminal nineties moment). Emerging as an indie darling over the next few years, Jacobs accepted the position of creative director at Louis Vuitton in 1997, in part to finance the Marc Jacobs business, which LVMH subsequently bought. Today, Marc Jacobs is a global brand that also produces menswear, accessories, childrenswear, home furnishings, jewelry, watches, and fragrances…and the Man of Contradictions has taken home seven major awards from the CFDA.

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