Most employees finish the workday and clock out. Not Marc Jacobs’. Moments after the designer took his runway bow after his Spring ’11 collection show, a friends-and-family crowd—including many of Jacobs’ own employees—headed downtown to celebrate their boss. And, incidentally, themselves. In conjunction with the new Bookmarc book store on Bleecker Street, the company has just published Brian Bowen Smith’s The Men and Women of Marc Jacobs, a collection of photos of the extremely photogenic MJ workforce. The steamy launch fête (“I lost five pounds in there,” one partygoer cried) and gallery exhibition stretched through two rented buildings adjacent to the Bleecker Street Marc by Marc shop, as well as across the street at Bookmarc.
Having spent four years documenting the faces of Marc Jacobs employees, photographer Brian Bowen Smith (who got his start as a model and, subsequently, assistant to Herb Ritts) is as bona fide an expert on the company as they come. “This isn’t a family you can just jump into. It’s a gift,” Smith (left, with Jacobs) says. “Robert [Duffy, Marc Jacobs’ president] is the kind of guy that will go through the trenches with you, do the same shit with you, eat at the same table as you, and make everyone feel as though they’re all on one plane. Marc is the same way.”
“I think it’s just that they all stay forever. We have a really low turnover rate,” Duffy says of the company’s family feel. And why’s that? “We give them raises, clothing allowances, and pay their medical benefits, and just treat them how I would want to be treated.” Doesn’t sound like a bad gig. But, as warm and fuzzy as MJ HQ may be, Duffy admits that there is one aspect of interoffice relations he’d like to change. “Marc is constantly blowing smoke in my face for two solid weeks in our office while getting our show together. I want him to quit smoking and to quit blowing it in my face.”
Secondhand smoke aside, the celebration left more than one guest wishing they, too, could join the family. “I could do anything,” Bryanboy exclaimed. “I could be the girl sitting behind the water cooler, I would be a fitting assistant. I could be in the closet. Anything, really.”