On entering the specially erected tent in the grounds of the Louvre, the Louis Vuitton show venue looked like one giant glossy department store with its four gleaming escalators and polished yellow/white checkerboard floor as a runway.
Was this going to be some kind of comment about luxury consumerism or just a neat trick to get models from ceiling to floor in as photo-worthy an opportunity as possible?
The latter, most certainly, but the inspiration behind it, said Marc Jacobs, was the work of abstract minimalist, Daniel Buren (with whom he collaborated on the set) whose black and white striped three-height striped columns arranged in a grid in the Palais Royal are Jacobs’ favourite sculptures. ‘That’s where the short, mid-calf or long silhouettes came from,’ he said after the show.
‘It was all about moving patterns,’ he added, so the soothing motion of the striped yellow escalators, with the block checks of the clothes, taken from Louis Vuitton’s house signature Damier pattern, had an incredible graphic visual impact as the models descended two-by-two.
The ‘twins’, with their hair sculpted into modern beehives secured with a white bowed Alice band, and their shoes, patent pointy-toed midi-heels, were straight out of the 1960s – a seamless continuation of the designer’s eponymous show, presented in New York three weeks ago. Jacobs was the first to put the era of sexual liberation and sartorial freedom on the map – the decade that has turned out to be the most prominent of all retro stories this season.
Brilliant and imaginative concept aside, what of these chessboard pieces? They were ultra spare, sharp and simple throughout. The micro story provided mini-shorts with cropped tops, abbreviated skirts with t-shirts; the mid-calf looks came in straight neat coats, round-necked slim dresses, or narrow skirts, and in the long straight-to-the-floor dresses with square cut necklines or plain perpendicular skirts worn with crisp buttoned-up jackets.
The only interruption of checks – which came in the most microscopic sequins that appeared as liquid glistening evening looks – was an abstract flower print in yellow, grey or white.
But is the point here really the clothes? ‘Every season there’s a pressure to come up with something new,’ said Jacobs, ‘We have to entertain you’. And that means putting on an unforgettable show (we’ve had a replica steam train, a fairground carousel and a dominatrix themed iron lift scenario in recent seasons) to sell the Vuitton lifestyle and of course the bags. This season: neat and square or tubular, in keeping with the 1960s theme.
All of which means one thing for Louis Vuitton’s check out… ker-ching!