No doubt you have seen the naked body of Marc Jacobs, lounging provocatively on a bed of silver Mylar, in the ad campaign for his new men’s fragrance, Bang. The photographs are bold, in your face and decidedly self-assured. On the flip side? This intimate portrait of Marc Jacobs, which appears in the September 2010 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. In the accompanying article, Marc Jacobs talks to fellow designer Calvin Klein about Bang, nakedness and the daring campaign.
Calvin Klein: I’d like to talk about the fragrance. How would you describe it?
Marc Jacobs: I like it! But no, it’s important to say that because I thought this had to be something I would wear and use and want. So it was in the gym that I came up with the name Bang, like bang! That’s it. Then I thought about what I loved and about spices in particular. So I talked to the people at Coty and I said, “I really like pepper — black, white, yellow, pink peppercorns, pepper fragrance — and I want to wear it.” And then we talked about the bottle and the packaging and the image.
Robert [Duffy], my business partner, said, “I think you’re in really good shape, and you should do the ads.” I had to come up with references where I felt that that was a good idea. I had to find, for me, someone who had done it that made it okay for me to be in it. So, of course, I came up with the famous Yves Saint Laurent image by Jeanloup Sieff, and I thought, Well, there’s someone I respect and admire, and if he can take off his clothes — and it also made a lot of sense because, fashionwise, I’m not a guy who’s sartorial. I’m not Tom Ford in terms of the grooming and the knowledge of clothes and the precision and perfection of getting dressed. There’s nothing I can wear in this ad that isn’t going to look ridiculous. At one point, I tried jeans and a shirt, and it didn’t work. So then Juergen said, “Take off the clothes.” So I did, and that became the ad.
Calvin Klein: I thought you were sending a message that this is a very personal fragrance; it’s about sex and scent.
Marc Jacobs: There is so much going on in one’s head when you do these things.
Calvin Klein: But people don’t know that Juergen asked you to take your clothes off. You see a naked body, and you think of sex.
Marc Jacobs: I guess the thing is, I’m kind of tortured by the thought that goes into getting there, so it demystifies the whole end result. I know too much to believe the end result [of nudity].
Calvin Klein: Was it subconscious?
Marc Jacobs: Well, I did feel good about the way I looked, so it was easy and — well, a guy looks better to me with no clothes on than with clothes! How’s that?
Calvin Klein: Women do too.
Marc Jacobs: Some women and some men.
Calvin Klein: So then you are thinking whether the scent should be romantic or sexy or green and woodsy and outdoors? And then you’re involved with the packaging and the bottle and everything.
Marc Jacobs: Everything. I always say we need a name first, and the name has to evoke something. And then Bang. It had a sexual connotation. It’s kind of affirmative: done, a sort of statement, no screwing around.
On a side note, if you want to win a trip to New York to attend the Marc Jacobs Spring 2011 show, head to the Marc Jacobs Bang Facebook page play “Bang You’re It.”
This post is sponsored by Marc Jacobs Fragrances.
Images: Nan Goldin