Marc Jacobs Leaves Louis Vuitton After 16 Years

Sixteen years after launching Louis Vuitton’s ready-to-wear line, creative director Marc Jacobs is leaving the French fashion house to focus on his own line. Alice Cavanagh on his final show.

In Paris on Wednesday morning, Marc Jacobs presented his final collection for Louis Vuitton, 16 years after he launched ready-to-wear for the house. Rumors surrounding the designer’s departure—which were confirmed by LVMH CEO and chairman Bernard Arnault and the designer himself—have been circulating all week, and upon arrival at the show this morning, all the signs were all there. The grandiose set paid homage to his greatest hits from past seasons—the escalators, elevators, and carousel—though this time they were cast in somber black.

In his show notes, Jacobs dedicated the collection to the women who inspire him and to “the showgirl in all of us.” This list included Coco Chanel, Kate Moss, Diana Vreeland, Madonna, Sofia Coppola, and Anna Wintour. Coppola and Wintour were seated together at the show and led the standing ovation when Jacobs took his bow at the end. Surprisingly, Moss didn’t put in a cameo this season.

U.K. model Edie Campbell opened the show, naked but for the famous Louis Vuitton graffiti logo by artist Stephen Sprouse (first seen in 2001) covering her body, and her hands appeared to be shackled with chains of black crystals. The following looks—everything from eveningwear to denim jeans—dripped and dazzled with embellishment. There were sequins, feathers, black jewels, and lace appliqués, and the feather headdresses designed by long-term collaborator Stephen Jones were fiercely fabulous. The Sprouse graffiti appeared again throughout as sparkling transfers on sheer black leggings.

Jacobs, whose high-voltage shows for Louis Vuitton have made it one of the most important events of the week, noted that he takes “pleasure from things for exactly what they are, revelling in pure adornment of beauty for beauty’s sake,” something he has made the most of during his time at the French house. Recent collections alone — like Fall 2011’s naughty night porters and last Fall’s provocative boudoir-inspired collection show a true genius at play.

During his tenure, profits have soared and his initiatives with artists like Sprouse, Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama, and Richard Prince created a cultlike frenzy around the brand, particularly for the monogrammed accessories. The subtler Sofia Coppola bag has been a more recent success story.

Despite bags being the impetus at Louis Vuitton, there were remarkably few featured in today’s show. The focus was very much on the end of an era, a sentiment that left many of us in a reflective mood. It’s been reported that Jacobs will now focus solely on his own eponymous line, and as for a successor at Louis Vuitton, former Balenciaga creative director Nicolas Ghesquière seems to be the favorite.