A friend of mine posted a video of the Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton fall 2012 ready to wear collection shown during Paris Fashion Week. I don’t usually pay much attention to fashion shows unless they’re by houses I like, such as Alexander McQueen. But this show was particularly wonderful. Watch it for yourself.
There’s some Downton Abbey in there, in the Edwardian lines of the coats and dresses. There’s some Alice in Wonderful, in the hats that look like mushrooms. And there’s quite a lot of steampunk. That’s what we need in fashion, I think. Interesting lines, interesting silhouettes. Fashion seems to be stuck in a sort of rut, and this is a way forward (also a way backward, but then aren’t ways forward also that as well?). And the clothes are coming out in about six months. I wonder what they will look like, how closely they will resemble what we saw on the runway. And more than that, I wonder how they will influence fashion in general, because the chance of my being able to afford Louis Vuitton ready to wear is approximately zero, but fashion filters down.
What interested me most about this collection, however, was the story it told. It was a magical story, about a sort of enchanted train trip. And of course, whenever I see anything like that, a magical story told in another medium, I start wondering about my own medium. About how I can capture something in writing with that same feel to it. One of the wonderful things about being in the arts is that all arts inform what you’re doing, all arts become possible influences. That means, of course, that it’s worth your while to pay attention to all arts, to keep your mind open, see beauty and meaning in places you might not expect.
What we particularly need in our culture, I think, are magical stories. Notice that the collection is fundamentally about connection: to the past, first of all, because the designs so clearly refer back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But the shapes and colors are also organic, so there’s a connection to the natural world. And there’s also a connection to childhood, because of the ways in which things don’t quite fit. The shoes that are a little too high to walk in (some of the model stumbled on those platforms and heels), the hats that are a little too big. Even some of the clothes look oversized. It’s as though girls are playing dress-up. Magical stories give us those sorts of connections, to the past (both personal and historical), to the natural world. They tie the pieces of our history together, and tie us to the world we sometimes think we have lost: the world of trees and mountains and streams.
And yet the clothes are also modern and urban.
So how do I combine all those things? I’m going to be thinking about that as I write the novel. Which I need to start soon, although at the moment I’m still terribly behind on everything. And my computer monitor dying hasn’t helped.
Here, in case you’re interested, are some of my favorite looks from the show: