It’s the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one. After months of speculation, designer Marc Jacobs announced on Wednesday that his Louis Vuitton Spring 2014 collection, which he showed on Wednesday in Paris, would be his last – ever – in an effort to focus on a public offering for his own brand.
The news that Jacobs was leaving the renowned French house was broken by Women’s Wear Daily on Wednesday, moments following his show. According to the fashion trade, Jacobs and longtime business partner Robert Duffy said au revoir to Louis Vuitton, which is owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, to focus on an “eventual public offering” for the designer’s eponymous brand, slated to happen within the next three years.
The departure has been long speculated in the fashion world and was fueled further when Reuters reported that Jacobs’ contract with LVMH was about to expire. However, a source close to Duffy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told International Business Times last month that the exit was imminent and certainly shouldn’t be a surprise.
The source said Duffy was “in a position of power” in negotiating a new contract with Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, and the luxury goods conglomerate “cares more about Duffy than Marc.” According to the report, LVMH, which also owns one-third of the Marc Jacobs brand and its diffusion line Marc by Marc Jacobs brand, was growing frustrated with the negotiations and couldn’t get an offer that pleased Duffy in order to stick around at Louis Vuitton, a brand that generates $9.46 billion yearly. LVMH, meanwhile, allegedly had been making contingency plans after realizing it “might not be able to afford them anymore.”
LVMH, however, will still be helping the Marc Jacobs brand go public as its parent company. WWD reported that the conglomerate expressed interest in an IPO back in June and have already sought investment guarantees for Marc Jacobs. WWD reported:
“LVMH officials believe the Marc Jacobs business could explode given sufficient investment and support, including the undivided attention of Jacobs and Duffy. Arnault said the Group is committed to such, particularly by developing new products and strengthening distribution by shoring up the brand’s own retail network.”
The Marc Jacobs brand most recently expanded into the makeup market with a line of cosmetics that debuted in Sephora stores in August. Jacobs is also responsible for “decades of more than 10 percent annual sales growth” for Vuitton, Reuters reported, and turning it into a coveted global luxury fashion brand based on international expansion and high demand in Asia.
No announcement was made as to the replacement for Jacobs, who served as creative director of Louis Vuitton for 16 years. But whispers among the fashion crowd are pointing to Nicolas Ghesquière, who left Balenciaga after rumored trouble with its parent company, Kering, as the replacement.
However, despite the business dealings and shakeup, Arnault joined Duffy and Jacobs at the Cour Carrée of the Louvre Wednesday to bid adieu to Louis Vuitton for the Spring 2014 collection show. The elaborate scene for the runway show was a dark fountain, dark knights and horses in a carousel and black-on-black-on black clothing for the collection. As The Associated Press mused, the “visual metaphor” was a hint at Jacobs’ departure from the brand for his final collection, which reportedly drew an immense standing ovation based on social media chatter.
“Dear Marc Jacobs. You are a class act. What a beautiful way to say goodbye,” tweeted Marie Claire fashion director and “Project Runway” host Nina Garcia.
For his grand finale, Jacobs cited women who inspire him as the inspiration for his final Vuitton collection, citing a long list of iconic ladies from Coco Chanel to Cher to Lady Gaga to Liza Minnelli to Catherine Deneuve.
"This collection is dedicated to the women who inspire me and to the showgirl in every one of them," Jacobs wrote in his show notes. “Whether extrovert or esoteric, they are the figures that keep visual language vital. Their style, imagination, creativity, talent, vision and voice have changed our landscape.”
The designer is expected to return to New York after Wednesday but not before expressing deep love for Paris – both verbally and creatively with a jumpsuit embossed with “I Love Paris.”