Marc Jacobs

Before Marc Jacobs became one of the most recognizable names in fashion, he was a fashion student at New York's acclaimed Parsons School of Design. His award-winning final project received a lot of press, but he was hardly an overnight success. For years, Marc and business partner Robert Duffy struggled, taking various jobs at places such as Perry Ellis, where Marc created one of the most critically slammed collections in history. After presenting that grunge-inspired collection, Marc and Robert were immediately fired. Eventually, Marc's grunge look caught on, but it was little consolation for the jobless duo.

Marc says he and Robert were finally able to set up a small studio where they could create their own collection. In 1997, Marc was approached by the world-renowned fashion empire, Louis Vuitton. Marc says he struck a deal with the company: He would become their creative director if they would help him and Robert continue what they love doing most—the Marc Jacobs line.

Marc's namesake line skyrocketed with his now classic Venetia bag. And the rest is fashion history.
Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs's styles are considered the ultimate in cool, though the real Marc Jacobs—with his trademark glasses and Stan Smith sneakers—says he's got to be comfortable, and doesn't see himself as cool. "We're true to ourselves," Marc says of himself and business partner Robert. "We let the chips fall where they may."

When defining his idea of style and beauty, Marc considers a few of his close friends, like director Sofia Coppola, actress Kirsten Dunst and artist Elizabeth Peyton. "They're quite eclectic," says Marc. "We're all drawn to sort of the idea of naivete and the beauty in imperfection. ... We like a gentler, more naive kind of casual, thrown-away style."
Oprah and Marc Jacobs

Marc describes the differences between designing for the French luxury house Louis Vuitton and his namesake line. "We work through inspirations and themes," Marc says. "Working on Marc Jacobs bags—it comes from a very personal place. Something more poetic. Sensitive. Casual. Urban."

Oprah shows off one of her favorite Marc Jacob's creations, a handbag designed for Louis Vuitton. "Louis Vuitton is more bling," says Marc. "It's more luxury, it's more about really unusual materials—the combination of those things—and working with the iconic monogram which has existed for a hundred and some-odd years. We had to update it and tweak it and make it desirable today."

In fact, Marc's bags are so desirable, they've sparked a knockoff frenzy. Marc says counterfeiting is "just wrong," but explains why he's flattered by all the fakes. "[T]o be involved in something, the creation of something, that's so desirable by so many, that people want to copy it—so that they can get it out there to more people—that is a flattering thing," says Marc. "To know that you've created something ... that people covet."
Marc Jacobs in his SoHo studio

Just three weeks before hitting the runway, Marc allowed our cameras behind the scenes at his SoHo studio as he prepared for fashion week in New York. The pressure is on as Marc's team works to snip, shape and stitch each garment. Much of Marc's day is spent sketching. He says it's a process of trial and error to capture the essence of his ideas on paper. Later, Marc will work with a fit model to get a better feel for how the clothes will look on the runway.

Today, the designs are in the muslin stage, a fabric that's like a blank canvas that allows Marc to see the shape before the expensive fabrics are used. Marc literally rips, pulls and tugs the muslin into shape. Then, it's back to the seamstress for another round of tweaks. This process goes on for weeks—sometimes right until minutes before the show.

There will be many late nights before show time, but Marc says he's living his dream. "Work is what really thrills me," he says. "The creation of things." Marc's latest creation fulfills another dream he's had since he was a teen—he opened his first store in Paris at the Palais Royale.

See styles from Marc Jacobs's Spring 2006 collections.
Jimmy Choo and Tamara Mellon

Meet Tamara Mellon (right), the face behind the Jimmy Choo shoe empire. It was Tamara's love for a high heel that inspired her to launch the elegant and pricey line of shoes, worn by legions of loyal celebrity clients. While working as the accessories editor for British Vogue, Tamara discovered a Malaysian cobbler named Jimmy Choo (left), who created one-of-a-kind shoes for his customers. At first, Tamara would commission Jimmy to create shoes for special projects. Then she came up with a bigger plan to create a line of shoes made with Jimmy Choo's artistry that would be available to everyone.
Tamara Mellon

Jimmy Choo signed off on the idea, freeing Tamara to take his name and run with it. Tamara's father backed his daughter financially, and in 1996, the first London based Jimmy Choo store opened. After 10 years, Jimmy Choo is now worth an estimated $325 million, with 40 locations worldwide, making Tamara Mellon one of the most successful businesswomen in Britain. "It was really about making shoes that I wanted to wear, what I knew my friends wanted to wear, and what we couldn't find," Tamara says.
Tamara Mellon and Oprah

When Tamara isn't running her multimillion dollar company, she's spending time with her daughter, Minty, who was born in 2002. Tamara's already designed the smallest pair of Jimmy Choos for her biggest fan. "Being a mother is the greatest thing in the world," she says.

Tamara says her now ex-husband, Matthew Mellon, struggled with drug addition, and they separated in 2003. Although it was a difficult time, Tamara says she grew from the experience. "I have a personal motto that I live by, which is feel the fear and do it anyway," Tamara says. "If you fail, you get up and you keep trying again. I'd love to be an inspiration for women to say they can do it."

Tamara shared this update with Oprah: "Matthew's been sober for a year and a half, and he is being a fabulous father to Minty."
Tamara's dream shoe closet

Tamara and Minty recently moved into a spacious new apartment. She hasn't started unpacking yet, but one very important space is already in order. This jaw-dropping dream shoe closet is where Tamara keeps all 500 pairs of her Jimmy Choos.
Richard Dickson shares the original Barbie

In 1945, Elliot Handler and Harold "Matt" Matson teamed up to create what would become a toy giant. They combined "Matt" and "Elliott" and called their company Mattel. On March 9, 1959, Mattel introduced a doll that would change the way little girls played all over the world. Elliot's wife, Ruth, inspired by her daughter's fascination with paper dolls, convinced her husband to create a three-dimensional doll. Barbie was an instant hit.

Three Barbie dolls are sold every second somewhere in the world, making Barbie the most successful doll of all time. She's sold in over 150 countries and reflects over 45 different nationalities and ethnicities. Barbie has had almost 100 different careers, from astronaut to teacher to presidential candidate!

Richard Dickson, senior vice president at Mattel, says the Barbie that started it all is kept in a top-secret location under lock and key in the company's El Segundo, California, headquarters—but he's bringing her out of hiding just for us! "This is a really big deal. We got [her] out of the vault," he says. "This is the first time that I've even held the original 1959 Barbie!"
Barbara Handler Segal

The little girl who inspired her parents to create the most popular doll of all time is now all grown up. Barbara Handler Segal says her childhood interest in paper dolls made her mother realize that little girls weren't just interested in playing mommy to baby dolls. "We projected our dreams, what we wanted to be," Barbara remembers, "and we could dress up paper dolls like anything we wanted to be."

Barbara says that Barbie's debut was a huge sensation. "I didn't know what hit me," she says. "Everybody was asking, 'Oh, you're the Barbie doll?' And I said, 'I am the name behind it, but I'm not the doll, you know.' ... It was never made to look like me."
Barbara Handler Segal and Oprah

Barbara says she is honored to present Oprah with a one-of-a-kind "Oprah" Barbie! The doll is dressed in a replica of the red Vera Wang gown Oprah wore to her Legends Ball, a gala honoring African-American women.

"Look at her waistline!" Oprah says. "Love it! Thank you so much!"

Elmo is Sesame Street's most recognizable character ever! Since his debut in 1985, this cuddly creature has tickled kids red with his sweet voice. Elmo's unprecedented fame makes his Muppeteer a multimillionaire and seven-time Emmy winner!
Muppeteer Kevin Clash

This is the first time Muppeteer Kevin Clash has appeared with Elmo!

Kevin says he became the voice of Elmo after another Muppeteer turned down the opportunity. "He didn't like it," Kevin says. "It was too cutesy for him."

If you're surprised by the big guy behind the little voice, you're not alone. "It's wild," Kevin says. "[People] expect me to be a little, short bald-headed guy with glasses."
FROM: Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo, Barbie: The Real People Behind the Big Names
Published on February 27, 2006


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