PARIS — After 16 years at the helm of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs showed his last collection for the French fashion house early this month. Charged during his tenure with designing accessories in addition to clothes, he helped create the phenomenon of It bags with his luscious designs that layered lace, sequins, feathers and contemporary artists work onto those iconic LVs, twisting and recontextualizing their meaning as a status symbol. At the same time, he transformed a fusty leather-goods brand into a global force.
The spring 2014 collection was for the showgirl in all of us, the notes said, a moving depiction of the Paris of our dreams on the last day of Paris Fashion Week.
The set was an amalgamation of things from Vuitton shows past. A carousel, a shooting fountain, a train station clock, hotel doors from the haute pajama themed-collection the label had shown for fall 2013 and escalators from spring 2013s mod musing on ordered geometry were reminders of how Jacobs ever-bigger productions at Vuitton helped usher in the era of the blockbuster runway show-as-performance art, beamed via Internet around the world.
At precisely 10 a.m., the station clock started tick-tocking and the bell tolled, starting a rumble. The Marc Jacobs train was leaving the station.
But not before an emotional ode to the City of Light, with models in exotic black feather headdresses like something Erte would draw. There was a celebratory but mournful feeling to the collection, done entirely in black and navy, as if Jacobs was saying the decision to leave the jewel in the LVMH crown, the brand that made him the biggest star in the fashion universe, was bittersweet. (His contract with Vuitton is up, and hes turning his attention to pursuing an IPO of his own namesake brand. A successor has not been officially named.)
The collection was dedicated to the women who inspire me and the showgirl in all of them, Jacobs wrote in the notes, name-checking dozens of people, including entertainers Cher, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli and Lady Gaga. They are the figures that keep visual language vital.
On the runway, the most American of icons, blue jeans, were sprinkled with the fairy dust of Paris beaded, embroidered and flocked with jet-black feathers on the waistbands, hips and pockets. Biker jackets were embroidered with ruffles and rosettes, and small bucket bags with beads and feathers.
Jacobs mused about his adopted hometown, When I look around Paris, it isnt the depth of the city that takes my breath away. Its the decoration and applied ornamentation that dazzles. It is not about thinking, it is about feeling.
Which is exactly what this collection was about beauty for beautys sake.