Fashion

Louis Vuitton’s Maiden Voyage

Fashion

Louis Vuitton’s Maiden Voyage

As the clock struck 10, the upper compartments of a handmade steam locomotive pulled into the courtyard of the Louvre Museum, which was done up like an old train station. Above, a moon-bright, branded clock read the hour. It was time for Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2012-13.

The models descended, each with a porter in toe, their arms stacked with luxury luggage. For the new collection, creative director Marc Jacobs reminisced on his appointed house’s heritage past, back to fin de siècle Paris, the Orient Express, and the days when trunks were commissioned for travel by rail. The silhouette Jacobs crafted was tall and dandy, a gracefully elongated A-line of midi jackets and trousers propped at the base by Babel-risk platforms and topped by the mad creations of milliner Stephen Jones: crumpled beaver hats made from felt, pony skin, and velvet.

Securely fastened from double-breast to shoe buckle, the modest, modern silhouette was contrasted by its lavish embellishments: hologram sequin brocades, sparkling tulle tweed, Art Nouveau embroidery, acid trip geometries, buffed ostrich skin, and bouclés unraveled to brush. The Damier, the coveted and counterfeited signature check that has decorated Vuitton goods since 1888, found its way onto bags and skirts and dresses, rendered in black patent and lipstick red leathers.

In a western wing of the Louvre, one whistle from where the railway spectacle unfolded, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs celebrated Louis Vuitton’s storied past and Marc Jacobs’ contribution to the brand. From 19th-century industrialization through 21st-century globalization, Louis Vuitton has maintained its place as the marque of high fashion and luxury. Jacobs is its forward-thinking ensign bearer.

“It’s just a trip,” Jacobs said after his show. On what sort of magical mystery tour were these elongated figures about to embark? Buttoned up like Sgt. Pepper’s–era Beatles and adorned in lush plumage and flora, the 47 glamorous travelers resumed their place on their gold-signed train, ready to go anywhere. A trip of the imagination? A forest of the mind? Back to the future? Anywhere the steam train takes them. —FIONA DUNCAN

Hair: Hiroya Watase, Makeup: Cyndle Komarovski at The Wall Group using Giorgio Armani, Set Designer: Daniel Graf at Mary Howard Studio, Model: Li Xiao Xing at Women, Photographer’s Assistants: Christian MacDonald, Victor Gutierrez, and Stas May, Hair Assistant: Tsuyoshi Harada, Retouching: View Imaging, Location: Fast Ashley’s, Brooklyn, Special Thanks to Broderson Backdrops