An insider's guide to your favourite fashion brands How it began: Born in New York City on April 9, 1963, Marc Jacobs learned to embroider jeans from his sister and to knit from his grandmother. At 15, he worked at Charivari in New York, where he met designer Perry Ellis. After graduating from the High School for Art and Design in 1981, he took Ellis' advice and enrolled at the Parsons School of Art and Design. In New York, the student was the recipient in 1984 of the Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award, the Chester Weinberg Gold Thimble Award, and the Design Student of the Year Award. At Parsons, he also designed and sold his first collection of hand-knit sweaters made for Charivari. Businessman Robert Duffy hired him to develop a ready-to-wear label under the Sketchbook label. The pair's mission was to create high fashion for young, cool people. In 1986, backed by Kashiyama USA, he designed his first collection under the Marc Jacobs label. In 1987, he became the youngest designer to receive the industry's highest tribute: the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent. In 1989 Jacobs and Duffy joined the Perry Ellis label. In 1992, Jacobs showed his landmark 'grunge' collection which included flannel skirts, slouchy sweaters, Dr Martin boots and crocheted skullcaps. It was lauded by the press, including Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Later that year, the CFDA honoured Jacobs with the Women's Designer of the Year Award. But the powers-that-be at Perry Ellis (Ellis had since died) were not happy with Jacobs' new style, so he and Duffy were fired. Jacobs worked on his own label in 1994, favouring fabrics such as angora, cashmere and mohair, and occasionally adding neon rubber separates and laminated sequinned jeans. He launched a men's ready-to-wear collection in 1995. It was a big year for the company in 1997. In January Jacobs (as artistic director) and Duffy (studio director) joined Louis Vuitton. They created the first ready-to-wear collection for the French label. That year, the first Marc Jacobs store opened at 163 Mercer Street in New York's Soho district and for a third time, he won the CFDA Women's Designer of Year. Jacobs' inspiration comes from fashion history and he adds a vintage touch. There is also an easy-to-wear casualness to his designs and he is known for using sharp, contrasting colours. For instance, for autumn 2003, he paid homage to pop and space-age elements, while the 2004 collection included secretarial styles, with bow blouses and high-waisted elegant pencil skirts. A more affordable line called Marc by Marc Jacobs was introduced in 2001 and featured layering. It included sporty clothes with leotards and parachute jackets, arm and leg warmers and stirrup pants. He used terry cotton, sateen, voile and twill in pastel colours with shots of black and navy. In 2002, he launched perfumes, sunglasses and a lifestyle collection. Watches followed last year. Since 1998 Jacobs has collaborated with photographer Juergen Teller on his unusual advertising campaigns featuring celebrities, including long-time muse Sofia Coppola. He lives in Paris where he designs for Louis Vuitton and his own label shows twice yearly at New York Fashion Week. The look? This autumn, he returned to his grunge roots with dishevelled girls wearing muted, brownish layers of plaid flannel, chunky knits, puffy trousers, metallic sequin dresses and leg warmers. His menswear line is a mix of his signature military, retro and grunge styles. Colours are mainly black, with tones of blue and grey. Looks include a flannel pyjama skirt paired with a suit in deep brown, while an officer's coat is layered on top of a herringbone waistcoat and blue trousers. Defining fashion moment: Dubbed the 'Guru of Grunge' by Women's Wear Daily, Jacobs created a phenomenon in the 1990s when he sent models down the catwalk in the Seattle-inspired, grunge look that put him on the fashion map. Fun fact: Actress Winona Ryder was arrested in 2001 for shoplifting merchandise, including Marc Jacobs clothing, from department store Saks Fifth Avenue. The designer then dressed the actress for her courtroom appearances and asked her to star in his ads. Who swears by it? Sofia Coppola, Kirsten Dunst, Christy Turlington, Lindsay Lohan and Mary Kate Olsen. What else? Handbags, accessories, children's wear Little Marc, fragrances and a basic wear line called Stinky Rat. Where? Marc Jacobs is at the Landmark, tel: 2868 9782. Marc by Marc Jacobs is at Pacific Place, tel: 2918 0812.