Cher as the new 'face' of Marc Jacobs / Marc Jacobs
Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars

The World Wide Web seems to be a fragile creature, wont to topple over at any moment – at least, if you believe the number of pop culture blips tipped to "break the internet" on a bi-daily basis. The latest reason espoused for its "breaking" was the unveiling, this week, of an image of Cherilyn Sarkisian – better known simply as Cher – as the new "face" of Marc Jacobs. It was published in Womenswear Daily and released on Instagram by LOVE magazine's editor-in-chief and Marc Jacobs' stylist Katie Grand. Before long, it went "viral" (as I believe the kids call it). Like Kim Kardashian's buttocks, or David Beckham's 40th, Cher's modelling turn was hurrahed as one of those "breaking point" moments for the poor old interweb. Whatever. It didn't even slow my broadband down.

But out of the examples cited above, Cher's Marc Jacobs campaign is the one I think justifies breaking the internet for. Because it's pretty glorious – the 60-something Cher, with her 20-something face, in a Marc Jacobs evening dress so new it's practically placental. It's from Jacobs' autumn/winter 2015 collection, which hasn't hit shops just yet.

That's the point of the image of course, to advertise said wares. Would an image of Cher in a gown incite you to purchase the frock? I doubt it. I adore Cher, but I suspect that not many women want to look like her. There's a few who do, of course – mostly the moneyed, multi-facelifted mavens who buy incredibly expensive high fashion. Perhaps this is an example of designers' increasing tussle with the real world outside of their customary ivory walls. "Fashion must be the most intoxicating release from the banality of the world," stated Diana Vreeland – the outre former editor-in-chief of American Vogue who, incidentally, "discovered" Cher and kick-started a modelling career in the 1960s. Jacobs based his collection on Vreeland, so Cher fits the bill perfectly. Even if she's about five decades too late.

 

However, this Cher campaign shows, if not the exact opposite to Vreeland's maxim, certainly an alternative. It's impossible not to think of Joan Didion's turn in Celine's spring campaign, nor Joni Mitchell's for Saint Laurent. But Jacobs has glorified the older woman before, and did it before those others. Jessica Lange featured in his beauty advertising last year, and the last Louis Vuitton campaign under Jacobs' tenure starred the then 70-year-old Catherine Deneuve and 43-year-old Sofia Coppola, alongside more standard fashion faces such as the 23-year old Edie Campbell.

Despite appearances to the contrary, Cher's Marc Jacobs' campaign isn't about age. Nor is it, really, about advertising the dress, or even selling it. When was the last time you saw a dress in a fashion advert and legged out to buy it? If you're a man, probably never. But if you're a woman who buys such things, you'd already have clocked it on the catwalk (and maybe even pre-ordered it). Regardless, even if you did, Cher's dress won't be in stores for a few more months.

So what is the point of these campaigns then? It's really about selling the story – would a national newspaper normally bother writing about the release of a fashion campaign? Probably not. But Jacobs has a knack for pinning down either the perfect figure to encapsulate the moment – like Miley Cyrus post-Twerkgate, or Winona Ryder fresh from a court appearance (for shoplifting Jacobs' clothes, incidentally) – or women of eternal appeal. Like Helena Bonham-Carter, or Victoria Beckham – both of whom have featured in his advertising also.

Cher is more of the same. The point of Cher isn't to sell, but to share: Cher got shared a few million times. You can't buy that kind of exposure.

Apparently, Cher is just the first of a slew of "faces" in Jacobs' winter campaign – the designer is revealing them week by week on his personal Instagram @themarcjacobs, to ram the social-media message of the whole thing home. How many times can he "break the internet", I wonder? After measuring the column inches (probably in the miles by now), if Jacobs could turn back time, maybe he would've just used her. Her, meaning Cher.

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