The Anti-Provocateur

How Marc Jacobs stays surprising

Fernanda Calfat / Getty Images

It's the last day of New York Fashion Week, and as is customary, the fashion world is burbling about Marc Jacobs' runway show, where he presented his fall-winter 2012 collection. But this time the chatter is centered less on the clothes--metallic paisley prints, Pilgrim shoes with rhinestone buckles, oversize fur hats--than who was wearing them: two of Jacobs' models were younger than 16, the minimum age suggested by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Over coffee at the Mercer Hotel in SoHo, Jacobs (dressed in head-to-toe black, including a Commes des Garons kilt) is unrepentant. "You have child actors and...

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