For a man who is paid millions to determine the proper placement of a buckle on a handbag, Jacobs is blunt about his lack of interior design skills. “I have no sense of proportion for rooms,” he says. “Paul has that ability to come in and just move a vase or something, and the space looks instantly good.” Still, once he got started, Jacobs approached the project with his usual obsessive zeal. “It felt very adult to me,” he recalls. “Like, I’m choosing a place to live! And I’m choosing fabrics for drapes! I’d never had drapes before in my life.”
More than window treatments, however, it was artwork that determined how the apartment took shape. In the library is one of Ed Ruscha’s sky paintings, Heaven (1986), a 12-foot-wide canvas that Sotheby’s auctioned in 2003. During bidding, Jacobs remembers, he got “a little overanxious, again,” and bought the work (for $456,000, according to records) without being sure that he had a wall big enough for it. “Then I thought, Oh, gee, we should really measure.” The painting fit in the library, just barely. As Fortune recalls, “Marc said, ‘Do you think it will look good there?’ And I was like, ‘Uhhh…sure.’” Fortune dutifully found a complementary shade of brown for the bookshelves, and the right Dominique table at Yves Gastou’s gallery on nearby rue Bonaparte.
Like many of Jacobs’s clothing designs, the apartment evinces a taste for classicism with a few transgressive twists. Walking into the entrance hall from the prim 19th-century lobby, a visitor first spots Currin’s The Danes (2006), a pornographic ménage à trois from the artist’s last show at Gagosian Gallery. Out in the garden, a Paul McCarthy bronze of a hacked-up Pinocchio serves as a strangely appropriate counterpoint to the Eiffel Tower looming overhead. And the master bedroom, lined with portraits, is Jacobs’s version of a rogues’ gallery: Above his bed, the demure Sixties blonds in Richard Prince’s Untitled (Four Women Looking in the Same Direction) (1977)—individually framed, appropriated photographs—gaze over at Bra Shop (1997), Currin’s iconic painting of one freakishly top-heavy bimbo measuring the breasts of another. “I just like waking up in the company of all these odd people,” Jacobs explains. In the sitting room and guest bedroom, in lieu of snapshots of his friends, he has Elizabeth Peyton paintings and drawings of them: Vuitton aide-de-camp Camille Micelli and diamond dealer John Reinhold, among others.
Peyton, who became a close friend of Jacobs’s after they met at a 2002 opening in Paris (he invited her to dinner on the spot), says the apartment, despite its haute-bourgeois bones, is “absolutely an expression of Marc.” She singles out Ruscha’s word painting Peach (1964), in the living room, as emblematic of Jacobs’s taste, with “that quality of simplicity that’s arrived at not so easily.” Underneath that painting is a woolly Lalanne sheep sculpture, just like the ones Jacobs recalls seeing in old magazine photographs of chic Paris apartments. (He has since tried buying two others at auction but was outbid.)