Marc Jacobs’ farewell to Vuitton is a dark one

Fashion designer Marc Jacobs acknowledges applause following the presentation of the ready-to-wear spring/summer 2014 fashion collection Wednesday in Paris.

PARIS — As maids swept away dust from steps that led into a set in mourning, it was clear that the Louis Vuitton fashion show in Paris on Wednesday was a spring-summer collection in name only.

There was a dark fountain and a nightmarish carousel featuring inky, surreal-looking horses. There was a twin escalator and a luxury hotel elevator. And there was the universe of clothes in all-black.

The decor was like a greatest hits collection that fused elements of past shows with the present one, tracing designer Marc Jacobs’ influential 16-year reign at the house.

Shortly after the show at the Louvre Museum in Paris, the visual metaphor was explained: LVMH announced that Jacobs was stepping down as creative director of its flagship brand. So Jacobs’ ready-to-wear collection for the storied house looked like a funeral for a reason.

The dark show came on the final day of a fashion week that saw designers channel black and white but also other, sometimes colorful trends. Looks on high rotation included: tribal African, ethnic pattern prints, multitudinous pleats, metallic sheen and revealing micro mini crop tops. Mid-blue was a particularly favored color.

And while Louis Vuitton shows are often extravagant and can use sets that cost millions of euros, the less well-off had options, too, during this year’s fashion week.

An initiative in recent years called the “Designer’s Apartment” provided showroom spaces for top young designers such as Aganovich, Monographie and Le Moine Tricote.

Still, it was the well-established heavy hitters who drew the most attention.

The 41-piece display, which used embroidered black silk stockings, Eisenhower jackets embellished cabaret-style with large feathered shoulders, dark appliqued embroideries, smoking jackets and some 1940s baggy, blue jeans, was a study in noir.

Floor-length, thick Edwardian dresses and large proportions in the sleeves fused with black decorative corset details that evoked the fashions of the 1900s, and contrasted with the more revealing “showgirl” looks.

In the program notes, Jacobs enclosed a message evoking a farewell to LVMH’s chief executive: “For. Bernard Arnault. All my love, always.”

But it was the standing ovation from Anna Wintour that said the most. Such rare, visible acclaim from the powerful U.S. Vogue editor was a poignant cap to his tenure.

Meanwhile, it’s expected that Jacobs will focus on his eponymous signature collection, which has been extremely profitable for LVMH, and preparation for a possible initial public offering.

Designer Christophe Lemaire took to the jungle for his intimate spring-summer show, with models who snaked around foliage in a central Paris orangery in deep greens, blues and nature prints.

“The dream of the jungles. I started with the deep shades and then gradually brought in prints colors,” Lemaire said of his luxuriant collection, which used a large tulip print on high-collared silk gowns called “folkloric.”

The show had all the usually fine cut Hermes-style clothes, like one must-have loose beige suit paired with leather sandals, but it couldn’t help but feel a bit mute overall.

A pale buckled ethnic skirt in rough material with a flash of green was a fiery little touch that Lemaire could have developed more.

It was the art of contrast in Prada’s baby sister label Miu Miu.

For spring-summer 2014, Miuccia Prada softened her musings to produce a more wearable and feminine col- lection than last season’s intellectual tight foulards, polka dots and enormous handbags.

Cleanly cut coats in pastel shades of blue, gray and yellow with softly colored panels produced harmonious contrasts alongside bright flashes of bright red and navy.

They often appeared on thick, patterned stockings that helped paint the whole silhouette in color.

Bright red sequined boots accessorized one look with a patterned sudden mid-thigh coat to give it an artfully contrasting punch of creative fun.