Marc Jacobs chooses to live by his own definition of "perfect."
The designer's guiding principle of perfectionism is so important to him, that he even got the word tattooed on his wrist. "It's about being perfect as I am," he tells me over Zoom, while sitting in his home office. "The word 'perfect' to me represents not just one singular person, but many people.'"
His definition celebrates self-acceptance, eclecticism, and individuality — which is the same notion at the core of his latest fragrance creation: Perfect Intense.
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"You were always sold fragrance with some woman you were told to look like," he says. "She typically looked a certain way. This scent is not about aspiring to be that woman; it's about aspiring to be your true self."
Expanding upon the success of the original Perfect scent — which launched in July 2020 — the black and gold bottle is adorned with a charmful cap and carries notes of daffodil, jasmine, almonds, and sandalwood. Leaving behind a whiff of warm floral, the aroma is meant to uplift all who experience it. "I don't subscribe to makeup, fashion, or fragrance having a gender," he says.
The fragrance's campaign embodies unapologetic self-expression, filled with images of individuals from all different backgrounds, ages, and body types.
Over the pandemic, Jacobs shares that he didn't need to go out to get glam. He indulged in fun pandemic projects, which included creating colorful wigs with his team of stylists, for example, simply because it made him feel good. "As humans, we want to adorn ourselves," Jacobs says. "It gives us pleasure, and it seems fundamental to honor that human instinct."
Ahead, the creative mastermind shares more of the story behind Perfect Intense — which launches July 30 at Macy's, Ulta, and Sephora — the transformative power of getting all done up, and what he's the most grateful for these days.
What inspired you to name this fragrance Perfect Intense?
I have a tattoo on my wrist that says "perfect," and it's about being perfect as I am, loving myself, and indulging in the things that I love. The world is perfect, and every experience I've had, whether it's to my liking or not, is perfect, if I choose to glean some learning from it. The word "perfect" to me represents not just one singular person but many people. With the fragrance, I wanted to take this feminine, classic bottle and chop the cap in half, then collage all of these various things that symbolize eclecticism, individuality, and self-expression. You were always sold fragrance with some woman you were told to look like. She typically looked a certain way. This scent is not about aspiring to be that woman; it's about aspiring to be your true self.
You gave the ‘Gram endless amounts of glam throughout the pandemic.
As humans, we want to adorn ourselves. It gives us pleasure, and it seems fundamental to honor that human instinct. I don't need to do this because I'm going out; I want to do this because it makes me feel good. I want to paint, draw, add a little color here and a little sparkle there. I really like getting into a character, and I love the transformative aspect of makeup and clothing. So, give me an opportunity to celebrate that and I'm going to go there.
Do you get beauty advice from all the legendary artists you’ve worked with?
During the pandemic, I kept asking Pat [McGrath] how to do my eyebrows. She would always do [them] backstage for shows, because my brows are sisters, not twins. [laughs] I've gotten lots of tips from the people I've been fortunate to work with, like Pat, François Nars, Dick Page, Diane Kendal, and more.
You’ve always kept self-expression at the core of your brand.
It just feels the most real to me. It took me 58 years to be as comfortable with myself as I am today, which doesn't mean I wasn't comfortable at 57 or 56. But we're always in the process of becoming. I feel very strongly about this freedom, self-love, and self-acceptance I got to discover. I want to encourage it in others.
What do you think it will take to dismantle gender stereotypes in the beauty industry?
I think it's ridiculous, really. When you think about it historically, men wore makeup, wigs, and jewelry ages ago. It's this toxic idea of masculinity and femininity that came from people in power. They're old ideas set down by white men saying this is what women and men should look like and behave like. But I don't have to subscribe to what some white men said ages ago. I don't subscribe to makeup, fashion, or fragrance having a gender.
What are you most grateful for these days?
I'm grateful for my health, my sobriety, the wonderful people in my life I get to work with, and the opportunity to create and make clothes. I'm grateful for my husband, my dogs, and the people I'm close to. And I'm grateful for all the experiences I've had, and all the ones I can imagine I will have. My [Instagram] hashtag #GratefulNotHateful just felt like the right attitude for social media. It's like, don't come on here and hate. When I started to experience cancel culture on Instagram, I wanted to encourage everyone to be grateful, not hateful. Come to me with your gratitude. Don't come to me with all that other nonsense.
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