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French kisses: Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibit opens in Paris!

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I was minding my own business at the opening of the Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibit in Paris, when suddenly I found myself in the middle of a full-on French air-kissoff with Hamish Bowles, Vogue’s editor-at-large, and a gaggle of Botoxed, pinched and pulled society ladies. I wasn’t actually the one doing the social cheek-to-cheek dance; I was the one being pushed aside so that the “love-ya-mean-it” ritual could take place. The scene at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs Wednesday night was New York chic meets Parisian cool. Everyone from Lee Radziwill to Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow to artist Takashi Murakami, who collaborated with the house for a line of handbags in 2003, were there to pay tribute to the man who has dressed—or worked with—them.

So, what was the exhibit like? And did I kiss-kiss with Sarah? Click here.

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I swear I kept running into Marc, but, alas, it was just a slightly shorter, less-muscular doppelgänger. Everyone around me seemed to know Marc, though—or were pretending they did. “Marc loves Cher!” “Marc loved it when he was on South Park!” “Marc is a genius!” Yeah, yeah. Okay, he is a style genius. His collection, which showed earlier that day for Louis Vuitton, was a “pinch me” fashion moment. The exhibit is a celebration of his inimitable talent, as well as that of the house’s founder. It’s not a historical journey; it’s more of a glimpse into what cultural and social forces inspired each of them.

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For Mr. Vuitton, it was Charles Frederick Worth, the founder of haute couture and the man responsible for imposing wardrobe aspirations on the bourgeois beau monde of the day. These ladies required luggage, and Mr. Vuitton was there to be their posh packing expert. There are 30 of these vintage trunks, which housed everything from corsets to crinolines, on display. To distinguish his luggage from others, Louis’ son, George, created the now-famously enviable and aspiration-inducing logo.

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Entering Marc’s world is considerably less staid and reverential. (In fact, there’s a warning for adults with young children that some of the images my be a little troublesome.) In his wildly inventive world, his muses are displayed on video monitors against an aural backdrop of Cher’s “Half-Breed.” Everyone from Miss Piggy to Barbra Streisand, Nicki Minaj, Rei Kawakubo, David Bowie, Paris Hilton and Elizabeth Taylor are touchstones for Marc’s creative inventiveness and hint at his business savvy in a time of globalization—not to mention reflect his own pop-culture celebration as an animated character on South Park and The Simpsons. Against this visual Pinterest-like pictorial chaos, there’s Marcel Duchamp’s “L.H.O.O.Q.,” the Mona Lisa with a moustache, on loan from the Pompidou. Other highlights? The wall of 53 of the house’s most important—or bling-worthy—bags, followed by windows showcasing some of his more notable collections. I think it was beside the “Winter 08/09 Look 49” mannequin where I witnessed my Hamish love-in. I emerged from the exhibit to find waiters offering glasses of bubbles while gorgeous models wearing Louis Vuitton lace dresses fanned themselves with ostrich plumes. The mood was very 1920s—in keeping with Marc’s runway outing earlier that day—and oh so kiss-kiss!

Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs 
Runs from March 9 to September 16, 2012.

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About Noreen Flanagan

Here’s how a fashion and beauty fantasy day for me might unfold. First, I’d meet Alber Elbaz for an espresso and a croissant. Then Stella McCartney and I would go for a run to work off my bakery sins with Alber. At home, Guido Palau would be waiting to do my hair and then the charming Peter Philips would perform a makeup miracle. I’d then slip into a shift dress from Céline (it’s Look 10 from the fall collection, if you’re curious.) Because I’d be lunching with Haider Ackermann, I’d likely wear one of his long woven jackets. I’m thinking Look 14 would be perfect. Later that night, I’d have cocktails with Raf Simons wearing Look 5—or perhaps Look 3. And then—if I have the stamina—I’d join Karl at one of his swish afterparties. Yes, that’s pretty much my fantasy day.