How Marc Jacobs saved Louis Vuitton from being boring 

How Marc Jacobs saved Louis Vuitton from being boring 

by Ollie Cox
3 min

Think Louis Vuitton and the chances are celebrity-soaked spectacles, a roster of monogrammed rappers, and 80-look collections come to mind, but that wasn’t always the case. 

But before Pharrell could have his LV flowers, and Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones before that, Marc Jacobs transformed Louis Vuitton. When he was appointed as Artistic Director in 1997, he introduced women’s ready-to-wear collections to what was a luggage and leather goods brand and presented the Maison’s inaugural runway show. 

At the time, a then 34-year-old Jacobs was a hot commodity in the fashion scene, being the youngest designer to receive the New Fashion Talent award granted by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and launching a hugely successful namesake label in 1984. The American designer was unafraid to do things differently, regularly drawing on muses and inspirations from across culture, including legendary writer and director Sofia Coppola

This kind of fashion rule-bending brought Louis Vuitton into a new era: one of collaboration, where luxury was redefined and reimagined, and its customer base broadened. Not only did Marc Jacobs bring Louis Vuitton to the runway, but he was the catalyst for its current cultural significance and success. Fancy the Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton lowdown? Keep reading to get clued up. 

Marketing mania 

When Marc Jacobs got his Louis Vuitton gig, he was told one thing: not to mess with the monogram. And guess what? He messed with the monogram. As part of this new direction, he removed the logo from the brand’s marketing materials, setting the ball rolling for a new visual identity that would change how Louis Vuitton interacted with the zeitgeist. For example, in 2004, Jacobs worked with Pharrell, designing Louis Vuitton’s first-ever pair of sunglasses named “Millionaires,” cross-pollinating fashion with music and popular culture to introduce menswear products beyond the catwalk and capitalise on a broader customer base. 

Collaboration

In 2001, Marc Jacobs tapped his mate Stephen Sprouse for a groundbreaking graffiti take on the LV logo. Sprouse was known for merging sophisticated design tropes with punk and pop influences, and for his LV collab, he overlaid monogrammed Keepalls, trunks, hat carriers, and handbags with his signature scrawl. Jacobs later worked with Takashi Murakami for a colourful play with Maison’s monogram, again appealing to a younger audience by working with artists from across pop culture, laying the foundations for further collaborations, such as the Kim Jones-led link-up with Supreme in 2017. 

Cashing in on celebrity culture

Kim Jones had the Beckhams and Naomi Campbell cheering him on, Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton was laced with the creative influence of Skepta, Playboi Carti, and Lucien Clarke, and Pharrell’s celeb mania sees his pals Beyoncé, Jay-Z, A$AP Rocky, and Rihanna pull-up and perform at his shows. Before Louis Vuitton was the social media catnip it is now, Marc Jacobs’ LV was loved by Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gisele Bündchen, and a load of the ’00s It crowd. Marc Jacobs designed monogrammed bags appeared in the arm candy armoury of some of the biggest names in pop culture, all contributing to Louis Vuitton’s quadrupling profits during his first decade at the House.

More on Culted 

See: What you won’t wanna miss at Men’s Milan Fashion Week

See: Pharrell’s latest Louis Vuitton collection is for the dogs

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