Opinion: a sombre departure for Marc Jacobs?

We decipher the hidden codes behind Jacobs' hauntingly macabre final collection for Vuitton

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There was no need for an official announcement. The opening look at this morning’s Louis Vuitton show – Marc Jacob’s last as creative director – made more than enough of a statement. Within seconds it ignited a Twitter frenzy and cast a haunting spell over the final day of Paris fashion week. The ‘look’ in question was a nude Edie Campbell who appeared on the runway covered in body paint art by Stephen Sprouse, ‘Louis Vuitton’ scrawled over her body just like the graffiti that runs through the streets of Paris. Then there were the black chains that clung to her wrists, glistening with embellishments. Without being crude, Jacobs couldn’t have been clearer, or more obvious, that this was his final statement – his last words. He was reminding us of the chains that have kept him so closely tied to the Maison during his sixteen year tenure, and within the next ten minutes they would be taken off for good. As perverse as that symbolism sounds, it was true.

Jacobs sent out a gang of sombre and expired showgirls dressed entirely in jet black. It was as though the circus had been cancelled; the girls were in mourning and preparing for their final performance

Now, just to remind you, this was a spring/summer collection. Wanting to leave his mark, Jacobs sent out a gang of sombre and expired showgirls dressed entirely in jet black. It was as though the circus had been cancelled; the girls were in mourning and preparing for their final performance. Their black feather headdresses by Stephen Jones still upright, but everything felt completely off balance. In the centre of the runway, a black lacquered carrousel spun slowly. It could’ve easily been a prop taken from the set of a horror film or stolen from a derelict amusement park. Perched on top of the carrousel’s moving horses were supermodels Eva Herzigova, Natasha Poly and Kate Upton in heavily beaded black ensembles. It was odd. They sat there, slowly spinning, watching the sombre circus unfold. Was this homage to the muses so closely tied to Jacobs’ time at Vuitton as they spun into oblivion?

Marc Jacobs opinion lea
Louis Vuitton SS14 Photography by Lea Colombo

The final sentence in Jacobs’ show notes read: ‘To the showgirls in all of us’, and as this afternoon’s opinions on his departure take over the internet, I can’t help but think that his final collection felt somewhat sullen. I mean, it was a magnificent collection with incredible craftsmanship, but I still can’t shake the feeling. Perhaps it was the gloomy set dripping in black paint, much of it taken from Marc Jacob’s own Louis Vuitton archive (the carousel from SS12, the escalators from SS13 and a glossy black fountain from AW10) which unravelled like some sort of greatest hits tribute. It seemed like such a dark and sombre way to depart. I also think it was Jacobs’ final walk around the runway that set the tone, it felt like he was uncomfortable up there and left me with a strange feeling. In the past sixteen years he given us so many great moments and pioneered so much for the Maison – his Richard Prince collaboration marking a pinnacle moment in pop culture. So, what’s next? Rumours of Nicholas Ghesquière taking over are at an all time high, but for now we will just have to wait.

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