Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton
Directed by Loic Prigent
The question at the heart of so many films about designers and artists is often the same: Where does inspiration come from?
In the case of American designer Marc Jacobs, inspiration appears to arrive via contemporary art, protein bars, cigarettes, trial and error and some mysterious alchemy that turns the spark of an idea into an entire collection. At several points in the documentary Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton a trail of glittering pink pixie dust drifts across the screen: inspiration, friends.
The real pixie is Jacobs, whose brilliantly low-high designs often contrast with his undergrad-hipster style of unshaven face and Plasmatics and Mickey Mouse T-shirts.
Prigent calls him “the most influential American fashion designer of his generation.” LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault, who hired the maverick designer in 1997 as creative director of the luxe Louis Vuitton label predicts “Jacobs could be the Ralph Lauren of the 21st century.”
The bread and butter of both personality-driven documentary and fashion is hyperbole. Narrating the film, Prigent certainly indulges an effusive streak, suggesting a mix of Hedda Hopper, E! Entertainment television and the dogged goofiness of British documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield: as when he breathlessly identifies Jacobs’ Spring Street atelier as “the heart of the hippest area!”
Though Prigent initially boasts of the designer’s inaccessibility, with the help of a few well-placed insider-connectors the director plunges into his inner coterie. Jumping from Paris to New York, Tokyo to London’s Frieze Art Fair, Prigent trails Jacobs both at work and at play. Prigent’s approach is peripatetic, even chaotic; it’s capable of inducing virtual jet lag from all the frantic locale shifts.
Some of the most satisfying moments are in Jacobs’ Manhattan atelier, where fashion fans will marvel at the access Prigent’s camera provides to Jacobs’ methodology of draping models, distressing fabrics, ironing, consulting a retinue of trusted assistants and adding his deconstructionist imprint to Vuitton handbags.
The principal allure of Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton may be Prigent’s access as well as his breathless “News on the March” narration that alternates between clueless and knowing. Jacob’s business partner Robert Duffy, a tanned and sultry type, is introduced by his sartorial “tell”: “the wide open shirt collar,” Prigent jokes. Epitomizing Prigent’s giddy, tres amusant approach, he scans the front row at a Paris fashion show, providing names written above the tiny figures: Jade Jagger, Ludivine Sagnier, Diane Kruger, Winona Ryder, Eve, Wes Anderson, etc.
Over time, Prigent’s snarky tone and tart approach to fashion reveals a subtext. Prigent’s overblown patter is its own self-conscious joke about the gossipy, celeb-centered, often superficial fashion world Jacobs inhabits.
Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton is probably too haphazard in its construction and too niche to appeal to the casual doc fan. Squarely aimed at those who already know Jacobs’ name from the fashion press, Prigent’s film will offer that market what it craves: an adoring portrait of a fashion iconoclast and tantalizing hints of the inspiration that guides him.
Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton