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Design & Style

Finding Inspiration

Marc Jacobs

Lesson time 17:02 min

Music, architecture, fictional characters—they've all inspired Marc and his work. Here, he talks about the importance of keeping your eyes—and mind—open to inspiration, no matter where you find it.

Marc Jacobs
Teaches Fashion Design
In 18 lessons, iconic designer Marc Jacobs teaches you his process for creating innovative, award-winning fashion.
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Inspiration. Finding inspiration is probably the most important part of the process. Or I would say it's the most important catalyst in the process. Because I and my team, we work on a schedule and deadline. We very often don't have the time to-- I mean, the inspiration doesn't necessarily come first in the process. It comes at some point within the process. But it is when it comes that things actually start coming together. Because up until the point where we recognize what we feel inspired by within a given season, we're just making random choices based on instinct. So early in the process, we start looking at fabrics and choosing colors, developing different fabrics, knitwear, accessories, et cetera. But I think, without the inspiration, I find it's like I'm looking at a blank piece of paper and I don't know what to do. I just can't move on. It's almost like a paralyzing sort of feeling. So when there is something that I'm excited about or inspired by, when there's something I genuinely am interested in or appeals to me, it gives me the incentive to create, and to make, and to do. So the inspiration plays, like I said, a huge part in, I think, the motivation, the catalyst. And it isn't something we can decide to find. It really is a very organic thing that happens throughout the entire process, throughout the months of working on a collection. And I'd say that I feel inspired by different things all the way up until the end. And putting the show together, putting the collection together, making the final choices even down to the hair and makeup, the casting of the models for the show-- all of that needs to have an inspiration. There's not any part of the process-- design, execution-- that without that catalyst ever feels real or right or like it has any authenticity or spirit. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I feel inspired, I think it sets off a load of other actions. There's research. It depends, of course, what the inspiration is. But when I do become inspired by something, then it gives me a little bit of a parameter, which is really useful for me. I find when there are no boundaries, when there are no limits, when there are no rules, I find it's too overwhelming. So when that inspiration does strike and when I do feel there's something I want to say or pursue, it gives me a little bit of a scope. And then I can look into, like I said, doing research. Researching on what-- depending on what it is, what's that look like? Looking for visuals, looking at colors more carefully-- it helps me to edit. It helps me to focus. And so it's very, again, useful in terms of, I guess, creating a focus. And then, going into the design process, it helps to inform the exploration of different details. I'm somebody who's very interested in every single detail of everything. So in terms of the stitching and the size of the stitch, the type of t...

Create your own trends

Marc Jacobs’s infamous grunge collection got him fired. It also won him the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award. In his first online fashion design class, the 11-time CFDA Award winner teaches his hands-on process for creating clothes that push boundaries and set trends. Learn Marc’s construction techniques, how he creates unique shapes and silhouettes, and how you can develop your own ideas from the first sketch to the final piece.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I very much liked the class, it was very inspirational and interesting.

I work in the events industry as an event producer. Although this wasn't a direct relation to my work, I found the information incredibly resourceful and Marc Jacobs to be an excellent speaker. Thank you !

In some lessons, where Marc describe his inspiration with the designs he made, it would be great if there's a complementary photo of it so that the audience can relate better.

One of the best classes! I learned so much about Marc, was always a fan but now more so. Wish there could have been more real clothing examples.


Madison H.

I really enjoyed this lesson because Marc was explaining even how he sometimes goes blank and has to find inspiration, which encouraged me to always look around me for any type of inspiration. I also liked how he mentioned that he doesn't just finish things one time, he goes back to change and add stuff to it.

Erika Von Finck

Perceiving an Inspiration through any sense is an incredible experience. I think when you are in your center, when you are doing something you are passionate about, everything that surrounds you flows in a very simple and easy way that makes it possible to perceive an inspiration, is the beautiful moment of Aha! That´s what makes your work consistent, because you are in joy! You don´t need to force it!

Aliya H.

When Marc explains how he sought out punk inspiration when he was younger, it resonated with me immediately I have been absolutely indulging in punk culture, watching documentaries like The Decline of Western Civilization and reading Burning Down the Haus by Tim Mohr. I just finished my first year at Parsons and am moving into my second but with the epidemic in the way, I doubt school will reopen in the fall, so I have decided to preoccupy my summer either interning or creating a collection. Cant wait to hear what else Marc has to say about his design process and how I can learn from him. As a fellow Parsons student, his process could be useful in helping me get through the next three years at The New School. :))

Lots of talking about visual inspiration, unfortunately visually not inspiring.

Ambrose N.

I also really appreciated his suggestion of finding inspiration in old books. I'm working on learning hand embroidery and trying to develop some of my own designs to make baby gifts. After this lecture I started looking through and old book on embroidery stitches I had gotten from my grandmother and it gave me a great place to start designing from.

Ambrose N.

I loved this lesson. I wasn't really sure what to expect since I haven't watched many Masterclasses yet. I love that Marc seems very down-to-earth and friendly. The lectures are really interesting and inspiring while also seeming surprisingly candid and unscripted.

A fellow student

I really liked this lesson but, I would have loved for him to present some images about the collections that resulted from his inspirations.

A fellow student

Would loved to have seen images of his collections inspired by ... as he spoke about them.

Darcy H.

I'm inspired a lot by the sustainability of fashion movement and the climate crisis, and I got this idea from watching Netflix's "Next in Fashion" (I totally recommend it btw). I'm also really inspired by tv shows like Gossip Girl and books that I read.

Cristelle S.

Dear MasterClass, Hello. My name is Cristelle. I liked this lesson, from the "Marc Jacobs Teaches Fashion Design" class, about Finding Inspiration because it is really interesting. Often I find inspiration from a lot of places for fashion design for my art paintings. However to find inspiration from fictional characters, is something that I had not thought of before. Sincerely, Cristelle Nicole