Marc Jacobs placed a quote from Susan Sontag's seminal essay 'Notes on Camp' on each and every seat at his Louis Vuitton show. It was evidently meant to set the tone for what was to follow - basically, don't take it too seriously. That's quite a statement to make at one of France's leading luxury houses, where fashion is a very serious business indeed, but Jacobs' is a man with few qualms when it comes to his clothing.
Hence, his latest Vuitton show was an escapist excursion in camp. But not just camp, this show had a theme - the orient. Big whoop, we've seen it all over the shop for spring, but Jacobs' camp gave it a new slant. Hence we got silk cheongsams by the dozen, lace fans, crocus prints and tasseled, lacquered heels rendered in the lurid, flickering and saturated hues of a mid-sixties colour TV. The head of the catwalk was done out like a sitcom harem with beaded curtains and stuffed tigers, both of which also came out in the clothes - fringing like Chinese lanterns waterfalling down dresses, and those big cat (and giraffe, and zebra) prints unfurling across capes and trousersuits in cartoonish primaries.
There was more than a hint of Yves Saint Laurent - again - to this offering, namely his mythologised Opium couture of 1977. But Jacobs was gently poking fun rather than paying reverent homage, his models marching down the catwalk four-at-a-time in old-school YSL style. The maitre himself would have appreciated it - after all, his Forties couture collection was a suggestive wink to the camp vamp of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol and the New York New Wave populating Paris in the early seventies.
This collection sought to bear out Sontag's ultimate camp statement: 'It's good, because it's awful', pushing Louis Vuitton's taste-level beyond the questionable and into the truly tacky. That fringe, those prints and the lurid colour combinations had more than a hint of a rundown Chinese take-out too them. But that was precisely the point. There was an undeniable joy in elevating these kitsch references to high fashion, and hence a vibrant energy to this decidedly tongue-in-cheek chic. Jacobs' Sontag quote opens with a line about the relation between camp taste and boredom, but love it or hate it, you certainly weren't bored by anything on Louis Vuitton's catwalk And for those naysayers, please note: he sent every look out with a neat, colour-block Vuitton handbag. And those tasseled lacquer heels started to look mightily desirable by the end, too.