John Currin: Marc Jacobs' Muse?

At the Marc Jacobs spring 2008 runway show last fall, painter John Currin spoke to Times fashionista Cathy Horyn about the designer’s collection: “So often when sex is done in fashion, it’s what is hard, interchangeable and jaded. This seemed very romantic,” Mr. Currin said at the time.

The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly informed us that florals for spring are not groundbreaking. (Whites, on the other hand, are worth a peek—at least that’s the word over at, which today posted a lookbook of chromatic-free runway fashions—79 of them—for the season when trees blossom, Paris looks pretty and such.) When groundbreaking is called for, it’s Marc Jacobs, tastemaker du jour, people call—or at least look to for consistently thunderous threads. Indeed, he alone seems to set the cutting-edge standards for spring, summer, fall, et. al.

According to Ms. Horyn, Mr. Jacobs has planned a spring that encompasses much more than a mere color trend—be they present, absent or of a pastel persuasion. The apparent gist of Mr. Jacobs collection is, kind of like the designer himself, a paradox: sexy yet not sexy.

These days, when art and fashion run in the same circles in Miami and just about everywhere else, it’s worth looking more closely at the aforementioned comment made by Mr. Currin, who is profiled in this week’s New Yorker by Calvin Tomkins—an article pegged on the painter’s passion for porn. Is it possible that Mr. Currin and Mr. Jacobs are, at the end of the day, doing precisely the same thing? Take a look at the similarities…

Of Mr. Jacobs, Ms. Horyn wrote:

“Although a number of designers have used lingerie and minimal draping to impart a softer sex appeal, none have the authority of Mr. Jacobs’s stripped-down dresses to break the hold of flagrant sexiness. His skimmy, bugle-beaded evening dresses and tweed skirts, with undergarments casually showing through sheer panels at the side or back, are erotic. Yet, because of the sensibility of the designer, they are respectful of women in a way that Britney Spears’s are not.”

Of Mr. Currin, Mr. Tomkins wrote:

“What strikes me about [his paintings] now is their beauty. Most pornography today is photographic, and it has a coldness that suggests (to me, anyway) an underlying contempt for adult sexuality. Currin uses the motif, but by taking it into a another medium he changes the temperature—the sensual pleasures of oil painting evoke what’s absent in the photographs.”

John Currin: Marc Jacobs' Muse?