Louis Vuitton has been considered the King of trunkmaking since the 19th century, but it wouldn’t be until the 21st century that the label’s magic and savoir-faire would take on ready-to-wear. It was the arrival of American designer Marc Jacobs in 1997 that initiated the brand’s first female wardrobe – he had free reign to define the image of the Vuitton woman. Vogue would soon capture the essence he gave to his first collection with neutral shades, minimalist and with no bags present. Marc Jacobs sketched a style “with a desire to highlight a casual, but chic, youth, free from the rules in force.” But his debut was timid, and so were his runways. The formula was classic, and the catwalk itself had little character. It wasn’t until the Spring/Summer 2008 runway that the designer’s creativity burst onto the scene. Daft Punk composed the soundtrack, and models dressed as nurses definitively imposed the Louis Vuitton name in ready-to-wear. Marc Jacobs himself was also transformed: more sure of himself, he introduced a new breed of femininity with increasingly staged runways.
In 2011, the Cour Carrée at the Louvre became a testing ground for Marc Jacob’s fantasies. With the trunkmaker’s fantastic heritage in tow, the designer unleashed a number of spectacular runways that played like super-productions, with a cabaret ambiance and “tigers” on the catwalk in 2011. The following one would take place within a decadent atmosphere that was very 20s-esque and imbued with Asian references. The looks were shown in a new light. “For me, a runway is especially done to give a certain aura, a certain prestige to the brand,” he affirmed. “A bit funk, a bit trash, a bit chic,” in the words of the creative director, Louis Vuitton’s runways became must-see events. Everything was suggestive and suggested: it was difficult to target where exactly Marc Jacobs wanted to bring his audience. One thing was certain though: there was plenty of mystery in these spectacular stagings. Louis Vuitton became a dream machine. For winter 2011, the designer transformed the Louvre’s Cour Carrée into the hotel lobby of another era, where gated elevators whisked away passengers. The highlight: Kate Moss as a spy, smoking her way down the catwalk.
In 2013, the Spring/Summer runway was the occasion to team up with Daniel Buren to reinvent the iconic damier motif. But if one of Marc Jacobs’ runways for Louis Vuitton sticks out in memory, it would be the Fall/Winter 2012 show. It’s said the budget reached 8 million – why? An old train station rebuilt in the Cour Carrée of the Louvre, an antique clock signed Louis Vuitton, and suddenly in a puff of smoke a real blue 1900s-style train blew its whistle and came into the station. The train “was made just for us”, confided Marc Jacobs. “We started working on the design five months ago.” Today, the creative folly of Louis Vuitton’s creative director is in the past. Ever since his arrival at the head of creation, Nicolas Ghesquière has been reuniting with the idea of travel, bringing his audience to the four corners of the earth. Rio de Janeiro, the Palais de Monaco, Palm Springs, Nitereói, and more recently, Kyoto.