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Meet Marc Jacobs' muses

FashionBy Sunday World
Meet Marc Jacobs' muses

While many designers take risks with their clothes, the advertising campaigns promoting them tend to be a different ball game. Until the last few years, the edgiest they got was using a - usually young - actress in place of a model in the shoots - but one designer is going all out to change that. Marc Jacobs is forging the path for equality in fashion, single-handedly questioning the beauty standard with his diverse range of muses.

This week (end10Jan16) the US designer cast transgender director Lana Wachowski in his Spring/Summer 16 campaign. He unveiled the casting in typically modern style too, using photo-sharing site Instagram to debut the shot. Lana is just one of the people appearing in the campaign, with Marc explaining he knew he wanted to work with her after hearing the speech she gave when accepting the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award in October 2012.

"She expressed thoughts and ideas that have filled my head and heart always but had never been so eloquently captured in language that was so tangible, intelligent, poignant and full of possibility," he said.

It's not the first time his choice of face has caught people's attention - in 2008 Victoria Beckham shot a surprising set of images for him. One saw just her legs poking out of a bag emblazoned with the designer's name, while another had her head sticking out of a carrier. The set was a comment on the speculation about Marc teaming up with Victoria, who was yet to transform into the sleek designer she is today and was better known as a sportsman's wife and former Spice Girl.

"We thought the funniest thing would be to show the Victoria Beckham ads that don't show Victoria Beckham, but just to see those legs coming out of the bag," he told WWD at the time.

At the end of 2015, the designer took the unusual step of choosing an older actress to front his latest beauty campaign. Winona Ryder, 44, was as stunned as anyone else when she heard she'd landed the role, not least because such work usually goes to women at least two decades her junior.

"I... love the people he chooses (to work with), because they're so unique and so cool," she told Allure magazine. "And the fact that he’s included me in that group is just an enormous compliment, and it means a lot to me personally. He doesn’t go for the cookie-cutter woman, for lack of a better expression."

Marc has form for selecting older women as muses - in 2011 he worked with Helena Bonham Carter, 49, and three years later it was announced that Jessica Lange, then 64, was the face of his beauty line. The move went down a storm with fans, who were delighted to see someone other than the usual young models gracing magazine pages.

He also has an enduring relationship with film director Sofia Coppola, with the pair pals as well as colleagues. They've been friends for over 20 years, with Marc even naming a bag after her and the pair creating a perfume together.

“I was about 17 or 18. It was just before the grunge collection, when he was working at Perry Ellis," Sofia previously explained of their first meeting. "I’d seen pictures of his clothes and I asked my mum to take me to meet him and then we became friends after that."

Although designers don't like to play favourites, Marc hinted his Fall/Winter 15 model had a special place in his heart. He cast 69-year-old superstar singer Cher in the shots, after revealing how much she meant to him when they attended the iconic Met Gala together in May 2015.

"Other boys were fascinated by other things. I was like, No, I’d really much rather see what Cher’s wearing this week,” he laughed.

That's not to say the designer is immune to the allure of youth though. Early in 2014 he selected Miley Cyrus, then 21, to become the face of his brand for Spring 14. The move was a bold one, as it was around that time the former Hannah Montana star was undergoing a style transformation, swapping her long brunette hair for a bleached blonde, shaved, crop and rocking increasingly skimpy outfits.

Another unusual choice landed the designer in hot water in 2011, when his perfume advert featuring a then 17-year-old Dakota Fanning was banned in the UK for being "sexually provocative". The actress posed with an oversized bottle of the Oh, Lola! scent between her legs, prompting complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Proving he wouldn't let that put him off, the designer cast then 14-year-old Willow Smith in his Autumn/Winter 15 campaign, using social media to explain why he's so driven to mix up the people he works with.

"Ever since our first Juergen Teller ad in 1998 which featured Kim Gordon on stage wearing my dress, I have always preferred collaborating with the people who inspire me to give new life to the clothes we show on our runway,” he wrote on Instagram.

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