At the end of the day — and at the end of a very long season — fashion’s raison d’être can be summed up in one word. Not money, greed, creativity or art. Fashion exists because of obsession. That heart-racing, visceral yearning that makes otherwise rational people preorder, stand first in line and lay out big bucks for that which they blatantly do not need and yet can’t live without. “It’s all about fetish,” Marc Jacobs offered on the night before his show. “The definition is an unreasonable obsession with objects or things. Which,” he deadpanned, “is sometimes Vuitton bags.”
Think Charlotte Rampling with a locket bag, haute “The Night Porter” with a sense of humor, and you’ve got the look. Think extravagance beyond any reason other than fashion — an 18-karat gold handbag cuffed to a girl’s wrist — and you’ve got Jacobs’ terrific, over-the-top prescription for Louis Vuitton fall. A battalion of French maids wielding enormous feather dusters greeted the designer’s guests, who arrived under the shadow of big black balloons that bobbed in front of the black tent. Inside, a retro, hotel-inspired elevator bank rose from the floor below and the girls started out, the women, too, as strutting along with Freja, Shu Pei and Kinga were some very special ladies we still love to look at — Naomi, Amber, Caroline, Kate.
Almost everyone carried bags, not all in gold, but in python, harlequin-cut shearling, embroidered monogram rubber. Apologies for merch-flaunting? Not Jacobs. “That’s the heritage of the company,” he said, practically fighting back a “duh.” That said, he has forged a tradition with fashion at Vuitton. The clothes looked terrific, cut from an incredible range of fabrics, many manipulated far from their natural states.
Python came lacquered; fake fur, waxed; guipure lace, made to look like plastic. But then, slick is “it” to the fetishist, as is see-through, of which there was plenty. Yet for all their rubberized, plasticized, waxed, car-painted veneers, and for all their police-hatted, silk-stockinged, jodhpured “discipline,” the clothes will resonate well beyond the dominatrix set. Tweed coats and jackets taken from men’s classics were reshaped into hourglasses; white-collared dresses could swing prim, in another context, sleek sweaters offered an alternative to bulkier fare elsewhere, and clipped Mongolian lamb pieces looked sensational.
To close the show, out came a smoking (literally) Kate Moss, herself once poster waif for another man’s Obsession. She wore a lamb-and-rubberized-lace jacket over hot pants and croc boots so disciplined, they required four people working for an hour to lace up. In truth, Kate, the ultimate supermodel, looked a little uneasy. Obsession, and irony, too. What’s not to love about fashion?