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Marc Jacobs's Spring Ads Fronted by ‘RuPaul's Drag Race’ Star

Photo: Marc Jacobs/Facebook

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Marc Jacobs has announced the latest face of its campaign, RuPaul's Drag Race star Don Donigan, who's known as Milk. Jacobs named trans director Lana Wachowski as the first star of his spring/summer 2016 campaign and at the time said he would be casting individuals who "embody and celebrate the spirit and beauty of equality."

Jacobs announced the appointment of Milk on his Instagram and wrote a caption outlining the choice. "One night while watching RuPaul's Drag Race I recognized one of our men's sweaters on a tall, handsome contestant," he writes. "His unique, artistic drag sensibility reminded me so much of the amazing drag characters of my club days at The Pyramid, Copacabana and other New York haunts I used to frequent."

Jacobs also shared a message that Milk, a former employee at his brand, sent to him: "When I started working for the MJ stores 5 years ago, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life," Milk wrote. "I was lost. All I knew was that I wanted to flex my creative muscle and most importantly, be happy. Working for your namesake company helped me along the way... Long story short(ish)...Thank you for following me and contributing to my creative life."

Jacobs has announced several faces of his campaign on Instagram, and Milk follows musician Bette Midler, comedian Sandra Bernhard, plus models Veronika Vilim and Kiki Willems. The portraits of the campaign stars are shot by David Sims.

Other fashion campaigns of late have gone in a similar gender-defying direction. Louis Vuitton's womenswear campaign stars Jaden Smith and AG Jeans picked Daria Werbowy to front both it's women's and men's campaigns.

DAN One night while watching RuPaul’s Drag Race I recognized one of our men’s sweaters on a tall, handsome contestant. His unique, artistic drag sensibility reminded me so much of the amazing drag characters of my club days at The Pyramid, Copacabana and other New York haunts I used to frequent. Upon realizing that Dan Donigan was MILK (who used to work with us at Marc Jacobs), I started following @bigandmilky on @Instagram. Today I share with you this portrait of Young American, Dan Donigan shot by David Sims for our Spring/Summer 2016 campaign as well as the touching direct message (DM) I received from Dan after "liking" one of his photographs: "Hey there! I want to start out by saying thank you! When I started working for the MJ stores 5 years ago, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. I was lost. All I knew was that I wanted to flex my creative muscle and most importantly, be happy. Working for your namesake company helped me along the way. It was living the summer of 2011 at the store in Ptown that opened my eyes to so many different outlets of what the art of drag could be. It wasn't necessarily about female impersonation. It was about representing oneself in the most fabulous way, whether it be a Cher impersonator or throwing a shit ton of glitter on your face and dancing the night away in a basement! Where I am now in my life is absolutely surreal. Of course I have worked my ass off along the way which has only made it that much tighter and easier to show off haha As a 15 year old little boy, I would never have thought I would be here, travelling around the world, putting on makeup, and performing for fans. I am blessed to have had the past I had, a life that pushed me to reach and strive for something unknown yet better! Long story short(ish)...Thank you for following me and contributing to my creative life. It really does mean a lot Please feel free to shout whenever you would like to attend American Ballet Theatre. I know James, my boyfriend, would love to have you in the audience!!! Hope our paths cross soon! Xox Milk aka Dan" And I hope they keep crossing… To quote RuPaul, "we’re all born naked and the rest is drag." X, M.

A photo posted by Marc Jacobs (@themarcjacobs) on

KIKI I instantly fell in love with Kiki the moment she walked through the doors one evening during the Spring/Summer 16 show preparation. She was wearing a New York Dolls t-shirt as The Dolls TRASH was blaring on the speakers. Coincidence or not, I bought the very same shirt 35 years ago at Trash and Vaudeville on St Marks Place – just a few doors down from Gem Spa, the location of the most famous New York Dolls photo. Another sensate connection! Needless to say, Kiki's own love for the Dolls prompted Katie and me to dress her for the show in our tight red vinyl jeans, a sequined argyle sweater, a varsity jacket and glam rock boots, transforming her into a new New York Doll. Kiki has a louche, haughty sophistication that is pure and genuine - a rock and roll style with beautiful arrogance. Her elegant poses, postures and gestures were so effortless and natural during the ad shoot it was nearly impossible to select just one photograph. This portrait of Kiki by David Sims beautifully channels the Madame X (by John Singer Sargent) meets David Bowie qualities that she so vividly embodies. I look forward to Veronika and Kiki’s life journey as they continue to inspire, create, make and do. @kdhwillems

A photo posted by Marc Jacobs (@themarcjacobs) on

What a privilege it is to know your heroes. My earliest memory of Bette Midler was somewhere around the age of nine years old. I remember (at that young precocious age) hearing about her performances in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel’s, Continental Baths. I vividly remember the genuine excitement and love I had for Bette’s music. I was curious and excited by her energy, power and the exuberance in her voice and bold, brassy glamour. To this day, I still credit Bette Midler (unbeknownst to her) with a large part of my foray into fashion design. At age ten when I discovered the image drawn by Richard Amsel for her album cover, I was so instantly enamored by the silhouetted Bette in a black dress wearing platform sandals with a wedge of red curly hair that I recreated it on the back of a jean jacket with acrylic paint and embroidery floss and proudly wore it to school. The onset of the spring/summer 2016 season began with my interest in the pride of being an American, however, I have always maintained that I’m a New Yorker above all else, a different breed entirely - one whom at nine years old is aware of the Continental Baths and more importantly the sexy, glamorous and sublime, Bette Midler. After a conversation with Katie Grand about New York nostalgia she had recommended a documentary on the BBC that profiled Bette throughout her career and New York City. While I have always felt a certain connection with and influence by Bette, the moment that struck me so profoundly was a statement she made about her footprints from the past disappearing as she retraced old haunts of her once familiar New York. It all felt so relevant and apropos of the pieces of the yet-to-be collection that lay before me weeks before the show. It reminded me of the pride I felt in having the privilege of calling myself a born and raised New Yorker. To her beauty, her brass, her glamour. To that energy, vitality, verve, nerve and curve… I’m so happy to share this beautiful portrait by David Sims. Ladies and Gentleman, the Divine Miss M!

A photo posted by Marc Jacobs (@themarcjacobs) on

This season’s ad campaign represents a series of connected events; a visual narrative. It is a personal diary of people who have and continue to inspire me and open my mind to different ways of seeing and thinking. The spectrum of individuals photographed in our Spring/Summer 2016 ad campaign represent a celebration of my America. In collaboration with photographer David Sims and stylist Katie Grand, the people featured in our campaign personify this collection of fashion through their individuality. Collectively, they embody and celebrate the spirit and beauty of equality. It is with an overwhelmingly full heart that I share this first portrait of our Spring/Summer 2016 ad campaign. Lana Wachowski. I was first introduced to Lana via YouTube in December 2012. The speech Lana gave to accept the Human Rights Campaign, Visibility Award, (October 20, 2012) was utterly profound in its script and her articulate, brilliant and timeless delivery. She expressed thoughts and ideas that have filled my head and heart always but had never been so eloquently captured in language that was so tangible, intelligent, poignant and full of possibility. I found myself referencing Lana’s words in my daily life and sharing her speech with close friends. In the days before our Spring/Summer ‘16 fashion show and through a fateful series of communications, much to my incomprehensible delight, Lana accepted an invitation to our show in New York City and thus I took her, "fashion show virginity." Lana’s ineffable beauty captured by David in this portrait reminds me of the personal sentiment she shared with me about, "learning you can make important friends at anytime in your life."

A photo posted by Marc Jacobs (@themarcjacobs) on