VMAs: Marc Jacobs to Receive Inaugural Fashion Trailblazer Award

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Rita Ora and Marc Jacobs

The designer and music-lover featured an MTV logo in his 2017 resort collection and will install an activation on the awards show's red carpet as part of the honor.

Marc Jacobs will receive the first-ever Fashion Trailblazer Award at MTV's Video Music Awards on Aug. 26. 

The American designer will be honored through a partnership between the network and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the fashion association soon to be headed by Tom Ford. Jacobs is creating a multimedia activation on the VMAs red carpet for the occasion.

"It is no secret that the worlds of Marc Jacobs and music are inextricably linked," the CFDA wrote Tuesday in the announcement. "From runways shows featuring Lady Gaga or a marching band playing Nirvana’s 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' to front rows with Cardi B and Nicki Minaj and ad campaigns with Missy Elliott and Cher, Jacobs often taps into the cultural moment through the lens of music." 

Indeed, Jacobs has deep connections with the music industry, as a self-described fan of punk rock in the 1970s and with favorites including Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. and Pearl Jam. He has spoken about the effect of grunge on fashion and photography, including his Perry Ellis collection in 1993, and even featured an MTV logo in his spring 2017 resort collection ($1,221), for which models with crimped hair donned dark animal-print ensembles.

Jacobs said he found a vintage pink MTV sweater and contacted MTV to ask if they could use the logo. The network then sent artwork options. He told Vogue that the 2017 sweater "was actually the catalyst that kind of put me in that 'I want my MTV' spirit and that’s why the [models] looked like they did and the clothes looked like they did. It was very much me tuning into like that part of my brain that recalled things to look like that as I remembered it in that moment," Jacobs said. "MTV always had the coolest graphics. It was very spot on for what MTV was saying and who they were saying it to. It really spoke to me and I think that generation of people at that time."

As for his music taste today, Jacobs admits, "My love for music still is very retro in a way." He says he's a fan of Billie Eilish (who has her own fashion partnership with Freak City and modeled for MCM) and Lizzo, who described her sense of style to The Hollywood Reporter as "a bad bitch that takes risks and wears whatever she wants." Both are nominated for best new artist at the 2019 VMAs.

For the 2019 Met Gala, Jacobs dressed Rita Ora ("Girls") and Lizzo ("Juice"). Lizzo told The Hollywood Reporter, "After we looked at the outfit, it was like, 'Let’s just really make it camp and just do flamingo pink hair.' We just like to take it and hype it up. We don’t really think about it." Jacobs himself helped raise the men's beauty bar at the Met Gala by sporting finger waves and dramatic eyeliner.

The New York native is also a longtime dresser of Lady Gaga, who wore his power pant suit with a feminist message in 2018 and walked the Marc Jacobs Fall 2016 runway show during New York Fashion Week.

"After trying on 10 or so dresses with a sad feeling in my heart that all that would matter was what I wore on this red carpet, I saw an oversized Marc Jacobs suit very quietly in the corner," Gaga said at Elle's Women in Hollywood event. "In this suit, I felt like me today." Gaga's makeup artist, Sarah Tanno, is a Marc Jacobs Beauty global artistry ambassador.

The designer recently debuted his The Marc Jacobs range (already worn by Selena Gomez and Elle Fanning) and a Peanuts collaboration ($40 to $550) after closing up his Marc by Marc Jacobs line four years ago.

He will receive the MTV Fashion Trailblazer Award at the 2019 VMAs, which marks the 35th anniversary of the ceremony that has honored Kanye West, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry with the Video Vanguard Award.

Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande lead the nominations with 10 each. See the full list of nominees here.