A good friend of mine wrote to me via WhatsApp from Mr Chow–London, not New York: “Heard that they are replacing Stefano Pilati with Hedi; Christophe Decarnin is in a mental insitution and will be replaced by Melanie Ward; and Haider is replacing John.”
The inaccuracies aside, I think following this diversion of musical chairs during Paris Fashion Week can be tiring, so I have not. Of course, John Galliano’s replacement at Dior is as exciting as the appointment of he (or she) who has to leave an existing post to go there. But we can wait for the news to break rather than to feed on the speculations that have been scattering with the same speed as the beads on a bedecked gown unraveling.
At the moment, right at the top of the list is Riccardo Tisci. It is interesting to note that Marc Jacobs, although mentioned, did not seem to be the guy people think could go straight to Dior, kilt-wearing intact. I am sure Mr Jacobs have entertained the idea. It is possible that he could have talked to Beranrd Arnault about it. An American taking over one of the most revered and desired French brands must be the ultimate wet dream. And to succeed Mr Galliano must be the heartiest last laugh for Mr Jacobs since it is no industry secret that both men are not exactly Laverne and Shirley.
While Mr Jacobs has successfully created Louis Vuitton’s ready-to-wear DNA, can he augment what has been established by Mr Galliano? The former has no experience in haute couture, prefers references to eras than to cultures, and is fond of paying homage to designers from Saint Laurent to Yohji Yamamoto. Oh, not to mention an almost unhealthy obsession with Seventies disco!
Each season at Louis Vuitton, Mr Jacob’s aesthetic for the brand swings from one extreme to another, taking us from caper to caper, he the H. G. Wells of fashion. Take the present A/W 2011 collection: how did it get here from the last season’s disco dollies doing China?
I must say I grudgingly somewhat like the Louis Vuitton collection, only because it is a lot less derivative than usual. Cathy Horyn called it “his most satisfying in awhile.” I am not sure if I am satisfied with it, as often up close in the stores later, the clothes are so distant from satisfying, but there are some things to look at that does not annoy me like they often did in seasons past.
Sure, the fetish elements are not new; the see-through, underclothes-revealing parts are revisited; and the French maids were employed by Miu Miu in 2007, but there are bits, here and there, that are alluring such as the skirt suits that are prim, but not necessarily proper or the print-dresses that would not look out of place in an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
On that note, this was possibly one of Vuitton’s most theatrical presentations to date. With an ornate, old-fashioned escalator letting out the models, there was a hint of role-playing here: girls emerged dressed as if after a fetish session with a client who lives in a fancy 19th century apartment. To me, it is rather character-driven, just as it once was at Dior.
Will Mr Jacobs be presented a ladder to climb to the seat vacated by Mr Galliano? I think not.