PARIS -- After 16 years at the helm of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs showed his last collection for the French fashion house Wednesday morning. It was "for the showgirl in all of us," it said in the notes, 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 blockbuster Vuitton shows past, including a carousel, a fountain, a train station clock, a hallway of hotel doors from fall 2013, and an escalator from spring 2013's Mod-themed collection.
Guests walked up to the tent in front of the Louvre as French maids with feather dusters swept the stairs (a reference to yet another past show), and sat on graffiti seat cushions referencing Vuitton's past collaboration with Stephen Sprouse.
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Then, 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, is bittersweet. (His contract with Vuitton is up, and he's reportedly turning his attention to pursuing an IPO of his own namesake brand. A successor has not been named.)
The inspiration: "The women who inspire me and the showgirl in all of them, Jacobs wrote in the notes, name-checking dozens of people, including Coco Chanel, Cher, Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, Grace Coddington, Louise Nevelson, Millicent Rogers, Rei Kawakubo, Lady Gaga and more. "They are the figures that keep visual language vital."
Key pieces: The opening look, an Erte-like bodysuit with Louis Vuitton written in graffiti all over it. The most American of icons, blue jeans, sprinkled with the fairy dust of Paris--beaded, embroidered, and flocked with jet-black feathers on the waist bands, hips and pockets. Biker jackets embroidered with ruffles and rosettes. Black column dress with open work lace detail. Fishnet beaded gloves. Flat boots. Small bucket bags with jet beaded details.
The verdict: In the notes, 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. The standing ovation was well-deserved.