Long gone are the days of stringy hair, slouchy shirts and chain-smoking. Nowadays, Marc Jacobs is all about precision, taking to exact show times and chiseled musculature. And if you thought his hyper-linear, Factory-Girl collection in New York or the perfectly round polka dots of his collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama were cleaned-up enough, think again.
Starting promptly at 10 this morning (much to the chagrin of late editors, furiously clopping into the Cour Carrée du Louvre), Jacobs' graphic spring collection for Louis Vuitton, too, kept strict adherence to form. At the far end of the space stood four escalators, leading down to a massive runway delineated by a yellow check pattern. Pristine, proportional, punctual.
Two by two, models came out, moving down the escalators and making the long, slow journey toward the wall of photographers, never breaking into a sashay or drifting in the slightest from their twin formation. The clothes followed suit, with most of the elongated silhouettes employing a check pattern in yolk yellow, a variety of beiges, chartreuse or black. Diaphanous cutouts and square pockets appeared throughout. "The only deviation from the straight and narrow," according to the show notes, "comes in the curve of a sleeve head."
Some of the surfaces shone with the metallic brilliance of thousands of tiny sequins, "the smallest ever produced," while a carpet-making technique known as tuffetage (tufting) created for bits of outlying embellishment. More relief from the stiff orderliness came from an abstract flower print freely splashed across multiple pieces of a suit, a bit of nature in a concrete jungle. But these were not humorous or cheeky pieces, as Jacobs' fans and clients have become accustomed, but a harkening back to a more innocent, vaguely 60s time, the era of ribbon-tied bouffants and mini-skirts. Indeed these mini-skirts, some pleated, rivaled the shortness of that other LVMH powerhouse, Dior. Not like you'd miss your weekly Brazilian anyway.
By now Jacobs' tenure at the house is a well-oiled machine, literally exemplified last season by a stream train rolling onto the runway of a station. This season, inspiration came from French artist Daniel Buren and his Les Deux Plateaux, a large-scale, bilevel installation featuring truncated columns in the courtyard of the Palais Royal, just steps from the show venue.
Louis Vuitton's Damier pattern happens to look a lot like the checkerboard pattern created by Buren's work. It survived Jacob's extreme stripping down. The Monogram wasn't so lucky; for the first time, it did not appear in a Vuitton collection. Like nearly every other designer this season, it would seem Jacobs has been bitten by the reductivist bug.