Marc Jacobs is no stranger to provocative gestures. Those who have followed his career over the past three decades have grown accustomed to seeing the jet-setting couturier in an array of outré poses: showing up at the Costume Institute Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art tricked out in a peekaboo black lace dress over white boxer shorts; championing skirts for men and other gender-bending apparel; frolicking on a Rio de Janeiro beach with a fetching former porn star (they were dating); even once exposing his own shapely bum—by accident—on Instagram. Every such caper instigates a feeding frenzy among gossip websites and fashion scribes, but Jacobs remains sanguine. His attitude might be summed up in one of the signature pronouncements of South Park’s Eric Cartman: “I do what I want!”
Considering Jacobs’s free-spirited temperament and insouciant iconoclasm—who can forget his seismic 1990s grunge moment?—one might reasonably expect his Manhattan home to be similarly unbound, irreverent, or, for lack of a better word, funky. But it is none of those things—in fact, quite the opposite. Impeccably composed and curated, the four-floor Greenwich Village townhouse evokes the air of old-school chic that wafted through the dreamy abodes of Jacobs’s fashion forebears. Think of Yves Saint Laurent’s spectacularly layered Paris apartment, Bill Blass’s aggressively refined Sutton Place digs, or Halston’s haute-1970s Paul Rudolph townhouse.
“I’m not big on having a particular concept or look,” Jacobs says in response to a query about the aesthetic sensibility of his home. “I just want to live with things I genuinely love—great Art Deco furniture, pieces from the ’70s, and contemporary art. But I didn’t want the house to feel like a pristine gallery or a Deco stage set—just something smart, sharp, and comfortable.”
When Jacobs purchased the newly constructed home in 2009 for himself and his then-fiancé, Lorenzo Martone, it was just raw space, and the couple enlisted interior designer Thad Hayes to oversee its build-out and decoration. Hayes recalls a telling moment early in the process, when he and Jacobs were discussing upholstery options. “We were looking at a classic boxy Jean-Michel Frank sofa and Marc said, offhandedly, ‘Of course I love it—it’s tattooed on my torso.’ Then he lifted up his shirt and showed me the couch.”
Jacobs and Martone separated before the house was completed, and the fashion designer finished the project with John Gachot of Gachot Studios, a decorator who originally worked in Hayes’s office before striking out on his own, and Paul Fortune, Jacobs’s longtime friend and collaborator. “I’d worked with Marc on his Paris apartment,” Fortune says, “so there was a certain comfort level. He had his ideas about the New York place, and I was there to see if those ideas would work.” Occasionally Jacobs tested his friend’s genius as an ensemblier with acquisitions that required considerable spatial finesse. “One day Marc announced that he’d bought a giant sculpture of Dopey from Paul McCarthy’s ‘White Snow’ series. The only place we could park it was in the television room, which was basically finished at that point. So we closed the street and craned the thing in through the back. You do what you have to do,” Fortune says.
“The television room was so perfect that I felt it needed something to disrupt all that order and refinement,” Jacobs says in his own defense. “But I’m not interested in wacky juxtapositions for the sake of wackiness.”
Images and text via: Architectural Digest