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Marc Jacobs stated that his final show for Louis Vuitton was ‘for the Showgirls in all of us’ but with its conclusion, there was not a feeling of liberation and joy but rather the opposite. Instead of the audience simply remembering the elaborate and decadent headpieces and Edie Campbell’s graffiti-covered body, we were haunted by it. It was a spectacle that burned into the imagination rather than bombarded the senses with the frivolity and excesses of bright colours and patterns that were more synonymous with the season’s shows. It was most definitely a statement (whether Jacobs acknowledges this or not) of his tenure at the fashion house and his legacy.
The opening of the show was led by a naked Edie Campbell, covered in graffiti and bound and chained. It was a startling reveal that cannot simply be read as an interpretation of a showgirl. The graffiti pays homage to Jacobs’ utilization of Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti in two separate collections in Fall 2006 and 2008. The fact that this was stencilled upon a naked form could well be Jacobs signifying his defining symbol of his legacy at the core of Louis Vuitton. The chains could well be his representation of how closely tied his own legacy will be to his sixteen year tenure as chief designer.
Stephen Jones’ headpieces – composed of burnt peacock-feathers – are one of the statement pieces that will forever be remembered. Awe-inspiring, gravity-defying headdresses reminiscent of both the Vegas showgirl and African tribeswomen were adorned by most of the models. This made the girls significantly taller and more imposing; an empowered female figure navigating the stage (a metaphor of the world, signified by the carousel, fountain and elevators) around her. In this sense, Jacobs was clearly appealing to the ‘showgirl in all of us’. The predominant use of black is an attempt to emphasise this statement, rather than the audience to be distracted by a whirlwind of colour and frivolity.
Jacobs’s appeal to all is also clearly defined by his merging of both high fashion, high-street and a distinct comment on what it means to be ‘feminine’. The show was punctuated with the inclusion of denim and sportswear, with one model in particular wearing denim jeans and military boots, another with a sports jersey. Jacobs has set out to incorporate all aspects of femininity without discrimination, unifying all women with the one key signifier: the headdress. The facial expressions of all the models were also disarmingly neutral, devoid of any embellishment, which seemed fitting with theme of a unified empowered womanhood.
The show itself was concluded with one young black model walking alone. As she walked, there was the sense that Jacobs was leaving the French fashion house with a statement on the race issue at the heart of the industry. This is just another example of Jacobs vision of ‘all of us’.