PARIS – After months of speculation, it was confirmed Wednesday morning that designer Marc Jacobs would step down as the creative head of Louis Vuitton, ending a storied 16-year tenure at the famed luxury label. The news came just after the designer's Paris Fashion Week show for the house — his last.
In true Jacobs style, the New York-based designer brought down the house, and brought some audience members to tears, with an intense, all-black show staged inside a tent in the center courtyard of the Louvre Wednesday morning.
“It was so emotional,” said Oscar winner and Vuitton collaborator Sofia Coppola of the designer’s last show for the famed French fashion house.
“It was beautiful and unexpected, pure theater. He’s just such a creative person, it’s always a surprise and interesting to see what he comes up with each season,” she said, noting that her longtime friend has been “so supportive” of her through the years, including encouraging her latest bag collaboration for Vuitton, which was celebrated at a cocktail party the night before.
Jacobs, heralded for ushering in fashion's '90s grunge era that's currently seeing a resurgence, wasn't yet a major household name when he took the reins of LV in 1997. But innovative accessory collaborations with artists including Takashi Murakami — which generated $300 million in sales for the then-staid company — quickly propelled Jacobs into the fashion stratosphere.
But with LV's 2012 growth stuck in the single digits, rumors had been swirling that Jacobs would depart to focus on his own namesake company, with further speculation that he and business partner Robert Duffy are readying to file an IPO in the coming years. LVMH, the Bernard Arnault-run parent company of Louis Vuitton, has a 96 percent stake in Jacobs' own label.
During Wednesday's sartorial swan song, actresses Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Hailee Steinfeld and Hailey Bennett turned out to bid adieu as models in huge feather headdresses paraded around an immense fountain, mounted a carousel and rode elevators between levels of the two-tiered set.
The Fanning sisters, who have both appeared in campaigns for Jacobs’ own eponymous brand, took a quick trip to Paris for Coppola's Tuesday evening fete and Jacobs' Wednesday morning show before heading back to New York.
"It was amazing, unbelievably dramatic. I haven’t even processed it yet," Dakota said as the crowd was clearing. “It was a special show, and my friendship with Marc makes it even more special. I guess just knowing him for so long,” said the actress, who first modeled for him at age 13.
"It was all black, but it was so detailed with all the feathers and also sporty. I loved the football pants," declared Elle, who also loved being in the middle of the most famous museum in the world. "I just like the feeling you get being here; it’s such a breathtaking place."
Legendary fashion editor Andre Leon Talley judged the show to be "masterful" and bemoaned Jacobs’ departure from the house.
"It was a Victorian farewell. He made a huge statement about beauty, luxury and opulence," he said. "He is one of the greatest talents in fashion in our century. It was sad, very sad, but a positive farewell."