Two weeks before the start of New York Fashion Week, a time when most designers go into lockdown with their teams, Marc Jacobs arrives at a photo shoot studio in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood looking relaxed and buff in a black tee and jeans. He heads back to greet Annie Clark, the indie rock star better known by her stage name, St. Vincent, who’s getting makeup done for Billboard‘s cover shoot.
Watch the exclusive premiere of Marc Jacobs’ music video for his fall fashion campaign starring Missy Elliott, St. Vincent, Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson, Susan Sarandon, Cara Delevingne and more below.
“Did you like your picture?” the 53-year-old designer asks the singer, referring to the photo of Clark in his fall 2016 ad campaign. In it, the Tulsa, Okla.-born, Dallas-raised Clark looks like a cross between Blade Runner‘s Pris and Pippi Longstocking in a white doily-collared sweater, striped stockings and layers of tulle. “I did, and so did my mom,” says Clark, 33, with a nod, her short black hair a pleasing halo of frizz. “I think it was my favorite,” says Jacobs, which, considering the other stars involved — musicians like Missy Elliott, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson, and such actors as Susan
Though Jacobs and Clark didn’t know each other before the shoot, the designer is on a first-name basis with most of the others. “In my mind, there is some kind of nonlinear connection between all of these people,” says Jacobs. “They’re not one thing. They’re connected because you felt within a certain moment that all these things belong together. There is no rule like, ‘That doesn’t make sense with that.’ It does if you say so.”
As one of the major players in the fashion world for close to 30 years, Jacobs has always flouted convention. From the beginning, he aligned himself with the musical elite, mining grunge, rock, rap, house and hip-hop in the soundtracks of his runway shows. He has embraced the edgiest artists and seems happiest stirring up a little controversy: His infamous spring 1993 grunge collection at Perry Ellis — which outraged store buyers, fashion critics and indie bands alike with its flannel shirts and sloppy silhouettes — got him fired, but it also cemented his reputation for heralding the shift away from the excesses of the 1980s.
Jacobs, who launched his eponymous company in 1994 (annual revenue is estimated at $950 million), has long drawn inspiration from music’s most iconic women, often enlisting them for his advertisements. While at Louis Vuitton, where he served as creative director for 16 years, Madonna fronted a 2008 campaign. Cher, one of fall 2015’s stars, walked arm in arm with him to that year’s Met Gala. And while she hasn’t been in one of his ads, Lady Gaga walked his show last February in a fur-embellished coat, having hit the Grammy carpet a week before in a custom-made, Ziggy Stardust-inspired coat dress. The collection, says Clark, “was pretty fantastic — thematic and theatrical.”
In August, the native New Yorker fortified his connection with music, doing an exclusive capsule collection with MTV. He also kicked off the Music Marc Concert Series at his Melrose Avenue boutique in Los Angeles. “Marc has always represented the progression of youth culture,” Logan Eze from BC Kingdom, which performed, told Billboard. The Los Angeles-based group premiered tracks from its debut EP, BuckWildNite, including the song “Hype Williams,” a nod to legendary music video director Harold “Hype” Williams, who, perhaps not coincidentally, directed Jacobs’ first-ever musical video, a three-minute-long, star-studded companion to the fall print ads that is set to Man Friday’s “Love Honey, Love Heartache (Larry Levan Mix).”
Jacobs and Williams first met at New York’s Mercer Hotel in the early 2000s. “I’ve always thought his visual voice is incredible,” says Jacobs, who, along with his muses, stars in the video. In the ’90s, Williams revolutionized hip-hop videos with his artistic eye and large-scale production values for such artists as LL Cool J, Tupac Shakur, Nas and Elliott, whom he met when she was 16. He was close with Prince (“Sonically, all of us are a derivative of him in some capacity”) and worked with Kanye West extensively. But Williams’ video for Jacobs represents both a genre shift and a return to the spotlight this year. “The clothes had a rhythm that reminded me of Limelight,” says Williams, referencing a bygone New York club that had its heyday in the early ’90s. “The music we picked represents that era and Larry Levan, [a DJ who] was a genius at what he did; he shaped club culture.”
For Clark, the video shoot with Williams “was like an acid-trip Fellini film, 8½ or Satyricon,” she says. “[Transgressive industrial music pioneer] Genesis P-Orridge was on one side of me, Susan Sarandon on the other, and all these gorgeous, statuesque redheads milling round. It was lovely to be in the company of real artists and genuine, beautiful freaks.”
Ever the consummate producer, Williams understood how to get the best out of the chic motley group Jacobs assembled by intuiting how people might respond to music. While shooting the video, he blasted The Prodigy for Clark. For Keiji Haino, the Japanese artist? “No music,” says Williams. “I had to use that, his silence.” Love only wanted to listen to her own songs; Manson “brought it” with Jay Z, even though he only listened to Justin Timberlake while prepping. “All of the hair and makeup ladies [said they] were fanning themselves, like, ‘That is the sexiest guy I’ve ever met,’ ” says Clark of Manson. “[He’s] extraordinarily intelligent and quite flirtatious; he will definitely say shit to provoke you,” adds Jacobs, spoken like someone who knows how to do that, too.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 17 issue of Billboard. Along with St. Vincent and Marc Jacobs, Rae Sremmurd and Sofia Richie are featured on a separate Billboard Style Issue cover for the Sept. 17 issue.