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Marc Jacobs Heads Into Men's Scent Market

Marc Jacobs Bang bows July 30. The visuals feature the designer Marc Jacobs lying naked on a silver Mylar bed.

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Bang Marc Jacobs

Photo By Robert Mitra

An advertisement for Marc Jacobs Bang.

Photo By Juergen Teller

Marc Jacobs is baring his all for his new men’s fragrance, literally.

To make a point that the new fragrance, Marc Jacobs Bang, is a personal passion, Jacobs will appear in his own advertising for the first time, lying naked on a silver Mylar bed — with only an oversize bottle of the fragrance for modesty’s sake. And it’s only one of many projects the designer has up his sleeve — he also is eyeing men’s and women’s underwear as well as color cosmetics.

Posing nude was business partner Robert Duffy’s idea, said Jacobs on Thursday in an exclusive interview. “Robert and I work closely with Coty on these projects, and he said, ‘Marc, you look so great now — you should be the model for men’s fragrance.’ My immediate reaction was, I don’t know. But then I came to see that it made sense. Men’s fragrance, unlike women’s in a certain way, is very personal. It’s a layer on top of skin — for women, it can be like changing a makeup color, but not for men.

“Once I agreed to be the model, I couldn’t see what I would wear to express this. We tried it with clothes, but it didn’t work. Then Juergen [Teller, who shot the campaign] had the idea for the silver Mylar, and it all came together. The silver Mylar also gives it that flash, that bang.”

While the fragrance will bow July 30 at Bloomingdale’s and Marc Jacobs stores, the visual will begin running in September men’s, lifestyle and fashion publications when the scent goes to about 1,800 department and specialty stores in the U.S. “It will be everywhere and in your face,” promised Claire Fermont Langlais, senior marketing director for Marc Jacobs fragrances at Coty Prestige. No worries: There’s also a version that will play in Peoria, Ill. [Jacobs cropped at the shoulders and holding the scent near his face] and a version suitable for the Middle East [just the bottle].

“This fragrance ad isn’t about some chiseled face on a beach — that approach wouldn’t be in line with what we’re doing,” said Jacobs. “This fragrance is for a contemporary guy, who, even if he isn’t young, has a younger spirit.” However, he’s realistic about how widely the almost-full monty ad will be shown. “I think more people are going to see [the Midwestern] version of the ad,” he said with a laugh.

While it’s the first time the designer has appeared in his own advertising, it isn’t the first time Jacobs has exposed almost all for fashion: He and Duffy appeared nude on the cover of WWD on Sept. 9, 2006. “That was about protecting the skin,” he reminisced with a laugh. The visual was intended to raise awareness for the New York University School of Medicine Interdisciplinary Melanoma Cooperative Group — Duffy is a melanoma survivor. “I made everyone take their clothes off for that — Robert, the models, my clients.” That list included Julianne Moore, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Hilary Swank, Dita Von Teese, Selma Blair, Carolyn Murphy, Winona Ryder, Brandon Boyd and Rufus Wainwright. (Jacobs has also bared all in many other publications.)

Not that the designer has only nudity on his mind. Jacobs noted he and Duffy hope to do underwear and lingerie next. “That’s a very exciting category — we feel it’s fashion and not just underwear,” said Jacobs. “Whether it’s a boy and you see the top of his underwear under jeans that have ridden down or a women with a bra strap showing when she’s wearing a tank top, it’s fashion. Again, it’s an accessory, and that’s a category that really interests me.”

He’s also keen to do color cosmetics. “Robert and I would love to do cosmetics at some point, even if it is a limited range,” said Jacobs. “Makeup, like perfume and clothes, is part of the ritual, which every woman I know enjoys choosing and wearing. I love how transformative all of that is. Makeup is an accessory as much as shoes and handbags are, and relates to fashion very strongly. Any opportunity I have to choose colors and design, I love.”

But for now, Jacobs’ full focus is on Bang, his first new men’s scent in a decade. “The name came to me first,” said Jacobs. “We had been approached by Coty to do another men’s scent — we did one many years ago — and I was in the gym, and the name Bang came to me. As a word, it has so many connotations, including a sexual connotation. And I loved the immediacy and the sound of the word. For me, fragrance is always a multilayered process — Bang was the catalyst for how this fragrance came to be. You’re drawn to try it, to experience it.”

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