For a thrilling moment I thought that the door prize for the screening of Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton was a Marc Jacobs handbag. That would have been a great way to dive into Melbourne Spring Fashion Week!
The movie is part of a season of films curated by ACMI called Marc Jacobs on Film, which includes several documentaries about this famous New York designer as well as other ‘inspired by Marc Jacobs’ films. The screening was introduced by the black-clad snake-hipped and camp-tastic Bryanboy, a fashion blogger and friend of Marc who has a Marc Jacobs handbag named after him.
Marc Jacobs has been called the most influential American fashion designer of his generation. When he’s at the helm of his eponymous label in New York he’s at the epicentre of the city’s social whirlwind (his decadent end-of-year parties are legendary). In addition, this fashion workaholic has been the creative director of Louis Vuitton since 1989. At the time, the appointment of the unpredictable inventor of grunge to the venerable fashion house made headlines, but it’s proven to be success. Louis Vuitton has maintained consistent growth over the years and is about twice the size of its nearest competitor. The label contributes to about 50% of the profits of the LVMH conglomerate.
In the film we are allowed previously unattainable access to Marc’s creative process as he flits between New York, Paris, Tokyo and London. Inside his studio are mood boards taped with snippets of random inspiration, tired models standing on 15 inch heels for hours of fittings and a sense of family, as many of his faithful staff have been working with him for years.
The camera follows his life closely – we gain an insight into his sometimes serendipitous creative process, his style mantra for trashing beauty and we watch him cutting fabric on the floor, paste leather circles onto a handbag design and rub shoulders with models, editors, businessmen, artists and celebrities. After years of abuse he’s given up alcohol and drugs although he continues to smoke constantly. Mostly he treads around in a uniform of t-shirts, cargo pants and trainers while fabulously pretty creations materialise around him. He likes to collect modern art and views artists with awe, as he believes that fashion design is the lowest rung in the creative hierarchy.
The heart of the film is the extensive preparations, tension and sleepless nights just before the Louis Vuitton Spring 2007 show. The day before, the staff work all through the night, stitching and matching accessories in organised chaos. On the day the clock counts down to backstage as outfits arrive from the atelier literally one minute before the show’s about to start. When those outfits appear on the catwalk, I just want to own every single piece.