Marc Jacobs bids farewell to Louis Vuitton

Marc Jacobs bids farewell to Louis Vuitton

PARIS - Paris fashion gave Marc Jacobs a standing ovation Wednesday as news broke that the designer who transformed Louis Vuitton from "stodgy luggage house" to global fashion giant is to leave.

The US designer with a flair for showmanship dedicated his final show for the Parisian luxury brand to "the women who inspire me and the showgirl in every one of them".

"That's one hell of an act to follow," said Vogue magazine on its international website.

Jacobs listed a string of women who had inspired him in a statement - from Jane Birkin, Betty Catroux, Catherine Deneuve and Edith Piaf to Liza Minnelli, Kate Moss, Barbra Streisand and Vivienne Westwood.

The designer is wrapping up his 16-year tenure to concentrate on a stock exchange flotation of his own brand, which market sources estimate could push it in the billion-dollar leagues.

Under his stewardship, Louis Vuitton has become one of the most sought after luxury brands, particularly in the lucrative Asian market, with "Vuitton mania" often prompting round-the-block queues outside the brand's stores.

The news coincided with Jacobs' last show for Louis Vuitton, on the final day of the Paris ready-to-wear collections. A celebration of his work for the label, it was presented entirely in black, just as his first was.

Jacobs and Bernard Arnault, chairman of Louis Vuitton parent company LVMH, confirmed the move to industry journal Women's Wear Daily (WWD) following months of speculation. LVMH also has a stake in the Marc Jacobs brand.

The designer, whose contract had been due to expire at the end of the year, had been in negotiations with Louis Vuitton and LVMH.

The 50-year-old, who pioneered Louis Vuitton's first ever ready-to-wear clothing collection in 1997, was hailed for his innovation at the brand.

"Jacobs leaves Vuitton after a dazzling 16-year run during which he orchestrated the transformation of the leather goods giant from a stodgy luggage house to a global fashion presence," it said.

"He pioneered the concept of the fashion-art runway collaboration, first with Stephen Sprouse and later, with several artists including Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince," it said, recalling how the bags he designed with Sprouse and Murakami became global phenomena.

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