MOSCOW — Considering Russia has been an inspiration for many designers over the last two seasons, Marc Jacobs spent four days in Moscow and St. Petersburg with one primary goal: “To get acquainted with the local culture, history, religion, traditional crafts, to talk to the most interesting people here, get the feeling and use it in Louis Vuitton clothes and accessories.”
Not that Vuitton is a newcomer to the country. At the end of the 19th century, the company was producing suitcases for the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and key nobility, so Jacobs’ visit late last month was somewhat of a return to the brand’s roots.
“I find Russia very interesting, both in terms of its cultural background and commercial perspective,” Vuitton’s creative director said. “Mainly it concerns Russian women — I have noticed they like to dress up here.”
Vuitton entered the Russian retail market in 2003 and now has two stores in Moscow: in the Stoleshnikov mall and in the GUM department store in Red Square.
Jacobs flew to Moscow on a private jet with friends Naomi Campbell and André Leon Talley, editor at large of U.S. Vogue. Yves Carcelle, Vuitton’s president, gave a Russian-style dinner in honor of the designer, which included gypsy singing and buckwheat pancakes with caviar.
“I find Marc Jacobs’ visit here symbolic — at LVMH we consider this country to be a very important market,” Carcelle told the dinner’s 50 guests, who included conductor Vladimir Spivakov and his wife ,Sati, dancer Nikolay Tsyskaridze, designer Valentin Yudashkin, French actress Fanny Ardant and Russian fashion editors.
While in Moscow, Jacobs visited the Pushkin Museum and the Kremlin and saw the show “Jeanne d’Arc on Fire,” which stars Ardant and is conducted by Spivakov. In St. Petersburg, the designer saw the Hermitage, which at the moment is exhibiting women’s garments from the 17th to the 20th centuries; the Aurora ship, the symbol of the Communist Revolution, and some of the city’s most famous churches.
This story first appeared in the December 7, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.