After delivering the most impressive show of the Fall 2012 Fashion Week season, Louis Vuitton designer Marc Jacobs is already looking forward, debuting today ‘Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs’, a spectacular retrospective of the two fashion houses’ combined 176-year history. Housed at Paris’  Les Arts Décoratifs, designed by Gainsbury and Bennett and curated by Pamela Golbin, the exhibit is in some ways quite similar to last year’s blockbuster fashion-as-art success, Alexander McQueen’s ‘Savage Beauty’. Both use haunting, face-veiled mannequins on which to drape intricately-constructed clothing, both display accessories in Tim Burton-esque wall cubbies, and both, thanks to artful styling, cultivate an experience accessible to audiences well beyond just fashion’s front row.


Where ‘Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs’ really makes its mark, however, is in its use of archives. Spanning collections from the mid-1800s all the way to this spring’s RTW lines, what on the outset might look like a pure fashion show is in fact much more a rich history lesson. The evolution of Louis Vuitton’s signature luggage offers insight into how humans have approached travel over the decades–from when the only modes to choose from were boat and train to the advent of the airplane to the present day. Similarly, the variety of cuts, lengths, fabrics, colors and patterns featured in the exhibit speak to the changing role of women over the years, both in Europe and in America.


Whereas ‘Savage Beauty’ gave a peek into the too-short career of one fashion genius, this exhibit will provide audiences with an education well beyond the aesthetic. ‘Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs’ is open to the public now and will run through September 16th.


(Photos by Francois Goize, courtesy of Louis Vuitton)

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