Louis Vuitton is one of the most recognizable designer brands, if not the most, in the world. The “LV” logo has become a status symbol associated with wealth and power on a global scale. While the brand has always been a power house in the world of fashion, it was beginning to fail in the latter half of the 20th century due to the brand’s association with “old money”. The work of one man resurrected the brand and began to set a trend of hiring new and younger designers to work and carry the already established fashion house. Marc Jacobs took the role as creative director for Louis Vuitton in 1997.
Now, 16 years later Mr. Jacobs has stepped down from the fashion house he helped to modernize. However, leaving Louis Vuitton does not mean that he is leaving the industry. In fact, Marc will now solely focus on his successful lines: Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs. His out-of-the-box mentality and incredible designs have changed the look and stigma of Louis Vuitton and many of the brands under the Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennessey holding company (LVMH). They are no longer brands associated with the uber rich, although they are still incredibly expensive, nor are their premier audience the western audience. LVMH and Louis Vuitton have become more and more focused on the international scene; paying attention not just to European and American standards, but also to the emerging Asian and Middle Eastern markets as well.
Over the course of Marc Jacobs’ career as the creative director of Louis Vuitton, he established a great number of partnerships with various designers that produced tremendous success for not only the brand, but for its parent company LVMH. Collaborations with designers like Takashi Murakami who created the Monogramouflage Keepall (A camouflage version of the classic Keepall made popular by Kanye West), the Multicolor Monogram pattern, as well as the cherry and cherry blossom designed bags pushed the brand into the 21st century.
Previously, Marc Jacobs collaborated with Stephan Sprouse to create a series of accessories that appeared to have graffiti over the classic monogram pattern. This was the first time that “street” style was introduced into a brand founded in 1854. More recently, Yayoi Kusama’s infinite dot pattern created the latest and final major collaboration for Mr. Jacobs. All of these collaborations have created a lasting legacy for Marc Jacobs.
Jacobs presented his final fashion show during Paris Fashion Week this past September. The Spring/Summer 2014 looks are dark and the overall feeling of the fashion show was reminiscent of a funeral, with bits and pieces of Jacobs’ history in the brand presented either through the clothes on the models or the props throughout the show. The escalator, elevator, and carousel, were all parts of previous Louis Vuitton collections created under Monsieur Jacobs.
Abruptly stepping down from Louis Vuitton prompts the question: who, if anyone, has the same amount of talent and ability to take risks as Marc Jacobs did to continue the rise of Louis Vuitton? It appears that it may actually take two designers to do what Marc did for 16 years. Luckily we will know this by the end of October, if not sooner. Sixteen incredible years that developed an accessories brand into the top selling luxury brand in the world. For now all we can say is au revoir Monsieur Jacobs and bonne chance with all of your endeavors.
–Jonathan Dromgoole, Fashion Editor