Marc Jacobs brought the curtain down with his show for his mainline eponymous label but, as beautiful and striking as the show was, it was difficult not to be distracted by the various hints he appeared to be dropping about another label.
Ever since John Galliano was fired as the creative director of Christian Dior earlier this year after he shouted antisemitic abuse in a Paris bar, there have been many rumours, and no confirmations, about who would take over at the august French label. Almost six months later, many fashion insiders are whispering that Jacobs has all but signed the contract to take the Dior mantle and an official announcement will be made at the start of Paris fashion week.
Even though Jacobs will forever be associated with the grunge look he so adored in the 1990s – an adoration which got him fired from his first label, Perry Ellis, when he made a grunge collection for the brand – the truth is that he left those grittier origins behind long ago and has been catering for a decidedly ritzier customer. After all, as well as designing his own label and its diffusion offshoot, Marc by Marc Jacobs, the man is the creative director of Louis Vuitton, and if there is one thing ritzier than a French brand known for astronomically priced luggage like Vuitton, it’s a French brand known for astronomically priced fashion, like Christian Dior. His time at Vuitton has proven that he can handle being at the helm of a major French label, and his increasingly experimental looks at Marc Jacobs prove that he could happily fit in at a label that created the New Look more than 60 years ago.
In his own label he has jettisoned the girly look he once specialised in for far tricksier proportions. (Although perhaps the proportions he has experimented with the most are his own: Jacobs has long since forsaken the Jewish schlubby look he had in his early days and is now an obsessive bodybuilder to the point that he was nigh-on unrecognisable when he took his bow this week.)
His show on Thursday proved all this again and more. While the Christian Dior woman might balk at cellophane and silicone dresses, or pop socks with silver shoes, beneath the showiness was real showmanship. Skirts ended right on the knee and were paired with rounded cropped jackets, creating a silhouette that was prim but strikingly distorted, as though one was looking at Peggy from Mad Men in a fairground mirror. The evening wear – a crucial part of the Dior business – was simply beautiful, with an enormous amount of handiwork in the form of beading and careful cutting and tailoring. The one definite lack in the show was – surprisingly from Jacobs – a tempting bag. Instead, the man who has surfed the It bag trend for some time showed leather bags that veered on the dull side, looking like watered-down takes on the bowling bag Prada did almost a decade ago.
But maybe that, too, was a statement from Jacobs: he is done with being known mainly for leather goods. It is time for couture.