“How can we outdo ourselves?” That was the question Marc Jacobs posedto himself and his team at the outset of fall’s creative process, whichcommenced as soon as the grand, gilded merry-go-round of his springshow was being disassembled. A deliciously wicked tale of two BelleEpoque archrival divas came to mind. Jacobs had read the story in aLouise J. Esterhazy column from the W magazine of yore, and retold itduring a preview with the disclaimer that memory might not serveexactly. The gist: When one lady — was it Sarah Bernhardt? — got windthat the other planned to arrive at an important ball wearing herjewelry collection en totale, she promptly trumped her nemesis byshowing up in a plain black dress trailed by her maid, who was bedeckedin all her mistresses’s bijoux. “I thought, ‘No girl will carry a bagthis season,’” said Jacobs. “It will be carried for her.”

Vuitton always starts with the bag, and the originals were realluggage — steamer trunks and cases meant for elite train travelers. Soat five past 10 a.m. on Wednesday, two massive steel doors parted and afull-scale locomotive, navy blue with the name Louis Vuitton emblazonedon the tank in gold lettering, pulled into the temporary LV station atCour Carrée du Louvre, blasting steam into the front row as it chuggedalong. It was, in Jacobs’ words, “no joke.” All aboard were elegantladies in crumpled ponyskin hats with fluffy floral add-ons andsky-high, square-toe Mary Janes. They disembarked one by one, eachgreeted by her own uniformed porter to handle her fantastic bags.

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