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Marc Jacobs doubles down at Paris Fashion Week

Amy Verner reports from the final day of the spring fashion shows in Paris

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It seemed unlikely that Louis Vuitton could top last season’s fully functional steam train that chugged into a tent within the Louvre. But in a way, the mega-brand did exactly that, thanks to artist Daniel Buren, best known for Les Deux Plateaux, the striped columns within the Palais Royal. Here, four escalators appear at the far end of the yellow-checkered runway.


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In fact, both Buren’s columns and the checkered pattern (known in the world of Louis Vuitton as the Damier motif) played out across the entire collection. All of the models walked in pairs, adding even more impact to the graphic looks conceived by creative director Marc Jacobs.


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This is the first ready-to-wear collection from Louis Vuitton that has not employed the monogram in any way. It was a bold move. But by tinkering with the Damier and applying it to clothing and accessories alike, Jacobs masterfully asserted the brand’s identity in a new and novel way.


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In the absence of the Damier, Jacobs designed an abstracted flower and often inverted the colourways – all against a Sixties mod silhouette that suggested a dramatic departure from the highly embellished Fall designs. According to show notes, he sourced the smallest sequins ever produced (not shown).


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Even when introducing transparency, the running theme for Spring, Jacobs maintained the Damier motif. In the midst of all the attention paid to Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, this collection asserted itself as the most precise, forward-thinking and brand-savvy of the season.


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Jacobs dedicated the collection to Yves Carcelle: Louis Vuitton’s outgoing chief executive officer hired the designer 15 years ago. Since then, the brand has only gone in one direction: up.


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For her Miu Miu line, Miuccia Prada pushed forward the Fifties silhouette. Several of the jackets, opera coats and pencil dresses were constructed from dark-as-night denim. Those that weren’t appeared curiously crinkled. And then there were the white oversized bra tops, which lent a youthful frisson to her femme fatales.


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After going extreme on the geometric prints for Fall, Prada opted to pull back this season. The one print, like abstracted broken glass or perhaps an ink spill, looked like something that would appear in the opening credits of a Hitchcock movie.


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There was a surprising amount of fur for a Spring collection. But those who follow the designer’s every move know that fur was used as a textural layering element in the Prada collection last month and that she also showed boldly striped stoles for Spring 2010. Here, tie-dyed mink appears draped across the shoulder of Canadian supermodel Jessica Stam.


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Designer Elie Saab, best known for his critic-resistant red-carpet gowns, opened his collection with day wear – specifically, suiting options in solid colours.


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Digital prints, still popular among the London designers, seemed less so in Paris. Saab was an outlier in this way. But his grouping of multicoloured dresses benefited from strips of black, which he used for contour and contrast.


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Once he arrived at his evening dresses, a Saab staple, the bands turned tone-on-tone. Such a small update made a big difference; interrupting the precious lace was a modern move. Yes, there were safer shades of charcoal and white. But the dresses in watermelon and royal blue would add pop to the red carpet. Certainly, they ended Paris Fashion Week on a vibrant note.


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