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Marc Jacobs' final Louis Vuitton collection feels right

Designer Marc Jacobs leaves Louis Vuitton with a spring 2014 collection both celebratory and mournful at Paris Fashion Week.

October 13, 2013|By Booth Moore, Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic
  • Fashion designer Marc Jacobs acknowledges applause following the Louis Vuitton show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2014 at Le Carre du Louvre in Paris, France.
Fashion designer Marc Jacobs acknowledges applause following the Louis… (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty…)

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 leathergoods 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 2013's 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.

Guests sat on graffiti seat cushions referencing Vuitton's collaboration with Stephen Sprouse in 2001. (Over the years, Jacobs also collaborated on designs with artists Richard Prince, Robert Wilson and Takashi Murakami and celebrities Sofia Coppola, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, giving the brand an unmatched cool factor.)

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 he's turning his attention to pursuing an IPO of his own namesake brand.)

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, Vogue creative director Grace Coddington, sculptor Louise Nevelson, socialite and art collector Millicent Rogers, fashion designers Coco Chanel and Rei Kawakubo, and more. "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 waist bands, 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 isn't the depth of the city that takes my breath away. It's 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 beauty's sake.

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