On board the Louis Vuitton Express with Marc Jacobs.
As a breathless Sarah Jessica Parker put it to Marc Jacobs: ‘Oh. My. God… I’m sure you’ve already heard it a hundred times and you’ll hear it for the rest of your waking hours but that was one of the greatest triumphs, ever. It was cinema, literature, incredibly nostalgic and reminded everybody of a past we don’t even know.’
After the show, a few of us managed to squeeze on board the Louis Vuitton Express with SJP, Catherine Deneuve and the film producer Harvey Weinstein.Yes, an actual turn-of-the-century steam train that took five months in the making, and sit in the carriage with Marc Jacobs who was dressed in a dress (Comme des Garcons; he owns six).
Half an hour before, the train had pulled into the Vuitton station, or show venue at the Cour Carree du Louvre, its carriage filled with models, who then proceeded to disembark and take a turn around the catwalk, or rather station, each girl followed by a uniformed porter to carry her luggage. The‘passengers’ had chequered pasts, he told us, they’d come from the country and were travelling to the big city, in style.
‘It all started with the train,’ explained Jacobs, ‘We thought well, what kind of bags would she have on the train (Of course, bags and luggage come first, this is Louis Vuitton, after all) and we thought she’d have big and small valises, overnight bags. And after that we thought well what would she wear?’
She wore tall hats – the better to elongate the silhouette, he said – and high-waist coats over long skirts over trousers. The outfits began in beige and gradually reached a crescendo of opulence, with decorative surfaces and beautiful bold patterns, some of them luminescent with hologram film bonded on felt then layered on wool brocades and re-embroidered with laser cut plastic stones.
This spectacular – which has now eclipsed Jacobs’ other spectaculars involving the portered lifts of a dominatrix hotel and a fully operational merry-go-round – completely keyed into the very essence of the house’s history. Astutely planned to coincide with this month’s Louis Vuitton exhibition at the Arts Decoratifs in the Paris Louvre, where the company’s history as the first brandin the world to make its mark on luxury travel is now on view.
‘We wanted it to be historic,’ said Jacobs. ‘I think you can look at it and see almost 1960s or 70s, those times when they were referring to a more romantic past and that was what really turned us on. It wasn’t sporty, it wasn’t casual or minimal or conceptual. It wasn’t modern.’
One wonders if he will ever be able to top this exemplary piece of fashion theatre? ‘This is a fashion show, not a showroom presentation,’ he replied, ‘And it’s just become our catalyst to make clothes.’
For this moment at least Marc Jacobs has utterly embraced romantic nostalgia, right down to the Vuitton new heels with button-down straps.
‘I don’t really think clothes are modern, I think people live modern lifestyles and it doesn’t matter whether you wear a corset or a sweatshirt, it’s your life that is modern; your experiences are what inform you and your desires and passions are what create your choices, so modern to me is just a bad word.’
And with that food for thought, it was time to disembark the Vuitton Express and this first class experience.
What a trip!