Streamed live, tweeted live-er and consumed instantly by millions - even billions - worldwide, fashion has become the ultimate voyeuristic pursuit. Was that what inspired Marc Jacobs to explore the fetishist - and, indeed, feti-chic - side of Louis Vuitton for Autumn/Winter 2011?
As the show notes helpfully reminded us, a fetish is actually not about sex: it's an object which has magical powers, or one that people are irrationally devoted to. Sounds a little like the global obsession with fashion, and specifically with Vuitton, non?
Jacobs however decided to twist it in a more explicit direction. Or maybe that should be implicit: the sexuality in Jacobs' clothes wasn't in a revealing bit of slap and tickle, but the strength of bricolage, combining disparate elements to unsettling effect. Give or take the opening transparent crin mackintoshes with patent girdles belted over, the clothes were remarkably prim, tweedy sixties suits with Peter Pan buttons and oversized buttons fastened right up to the neck. Granted, the models wore Night Porter caps and a couple seemed to have forgotten to put on their skirts, but overwhelmingly these clothes tapped into the late fifties early sixties bourgeoise thing we've been seeing.
That of course is prime Belle De Jour territory - as if it needed underlining, Jacobs winched his models into the show space in a quartet of concierge-manned and distinctly Parisian wrought-iron lifts (wound into their latticework were graphic floral motifs plucked from the Vuitton monogram. That's branding at its very best). Séverine may have worn YSL in her original incarnation, but the initials she'd be sporting for 2011 are LV.
With a hefty sixty-seven exits (alas, two short of the sixty-nine that would really have rounded the concept of this offering out), there was far too much going on to analyse each piece and theme in depth. Which is a shame, because they all warranted it. Despite the array of fetching (and easily fetishised) product on offer, the refreshing thing was that the theme didn't feel tacked-on, but genuinely integrated. The outfits, generally, were simple and straightforward, the the garments themselves - suits, shirt, sweaters, mannish twill coats - easily assimilated into every wardrobe.
But it was in the textures and combinations of these pieces that the fetish was evoked - and the materials, overwhelmingly. A dress in waxed fake-fur, a sweater in cashmere and patent, a vinyl-backed tweed suit, everything else rubberised, plastified, lacquered, worn with kid gloves. Even the simplest piece could be given a frisson of subversion with those fabrics. The handcuffs and transparent plastic that trotted out at a few points seemed like Jacobs' trademark touch of wit, just like those Leather Man caps and the French maids tickling every surface with a comedy feather duster (MariaCarla's got the couture treatment with a matellase uniform, pavé diamond mask and crocodile-and-ostrich duster).
What was the overall take away from this collection? The power of Vuitton, yes, but also the power of Marc Jacobs. In one fell swoop, he simultaneously gave us the best versions of three of the season's major themes: man-woman dressing, fifties-meets-sixties retro, and fetish. Oh, add a fourth. Chic. Everything in this collection was faultlessly, fantastically chic. That's some major bang for your buck. And all before midday.