Louis Vuitton Womenswear A/W12

It’s time to come onboard the LV train with conductor Marc Jacobs taking us on a trip to remember

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For the past three seasons, it seems that Marc Jacobs has tried to outdo the previous show with builds, but there's never been a better time to pull out all the stops when the exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, celebrating Jacobs' tenure at Louis Vuitton is about to open. Therefore at a few minutes after ten (the show was uncharacteristically late but all was forgiven when we saw the doors open), an old-fashioned steam train comes chugging in. We’ll venture to say that the train is distinctly first class as the most elegant passengers stepped off with an expression of wistful longing, accompanied by a porter that carried their all-important luggage. If it can’t be carried, it won’t be made. Louis Vuitton have always been in the business of travelling and this show hit that point home quite clearly.

We’ll venture to say that the train is distinctly first class as the most elegant passengers stepped off with an expression of wistful longing, accompanied by a porter that carried their all-important luggage

Rather neatly, Louis Vuitton’s heritage and raison d’etre also played right into the sumptuous, slightly madcap and Edwardian-inflected mood, which underscored his own collection shown in New York. The elongated and layered ensembles were given a distinctly pre-World War I feeling in the basic shapes – a double breasted peacoat or later an embellished opera coat with an A-line skirt that hit just below the knees and a pair of skinny cropped trousers peeping out from underneath, a combination that the two other biggies of the month Chanel and Prada are also proposing. Stephen Jones once again performed a fantastic feat of hat making and every model came with an extra bit of height courtesy of the softly shaped/moulded top hats. The season’s geometric bedazzling comes full circle with an onslaught of jacquards, brocades and tinsel tweed, embroidered and appliquéd with plastic stones and buttons come big and gleaming with crystals.

Stephen Jones once again performed a fantastic feat of hat making and every model came with an extra bit of height courtesy of the softly shaped/moulded top hats

Still, despite the lavishness of the clothes, our attention is on the comparatively diminutive porters and their oversized bags, inspired by Vuitton’s luggage history. Bygone artifacts like hat boxes, vanity cases and petites valises make a comeback on the train platform. This is an idealistic, rose-tinted view of travel that is far and away from modern day plane and train journeys.

It was difficult not to think of Julian Fellowes' hit drama series Downton Abbey as a reference for this mise-en-scene but it’s possible that John Galliano's show for Dior Couture where guests were invited to go to Gare d'Austerlitz was also hovering in the background. Fifteen years on from that show and Jacobs is now being feted for uniting his vision with Louis Vuitton's luggage past. This show pinpointed the success of the relationship between Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, one that we hope will carry on, if we get to be treated to more visual feasts of this scale.

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