Sixteen years ago, Marc Jacobs was appointed creative director of luxury powerhouse Louis Vuitton with the goal to update the line’s conservative looks. “I was given an incredible amount of freedom,” he previously told InStyle. “A luxury brand must be based on quality, but it’s equally about pieces that delight. Luxury is a whim that tugs at your heart.” And he succeeded, reviving the 159-year-old brand with rich, desirable (and at times, fearless) pieces without completely losing touch with the brand’s heritage. With each collection, Jacobs has blazed the trail, setting the tone for every season. And while the spring/summer 2014 show served as his swan song (which referenced previous shows with one set), we also took a look back at his remarkable tenure at Louis Vuitton. See our five favorite looks from standout collections above, and click through for five unforgettable moments, from covetable collaborations to stellar runway backdrops.
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Courtesy Louis Vuitton (2); AFP/Getty Images
The Art of Collaboration
Thanks to Marc Jacobs, there have been incredible Louis Vuitton collaborations with esteemed artists, from Stephen Sprouse’s scrawled silver graffiti in 2000 to Takashi Murakami’s animated motifs in 2004 to Richard Prince’s “nurse” prints in 2008.
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Courtesy Louis Vuitton; BFAnyc/Sipa USA (2)
Yayoi Kusama’s Polka Dots
In July 2012, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and her trademark dots were spotted in the Louis Vuitton display, which coincided with her exhibition at the Whitney museum in New York City. And of course, the very same polka dots were sprinkled across the iconic LV bags.
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Catwalking/Getty Images; AFP/Getty Images (2)
The Spectacularly Staged Sets
Marc Jacobs knows how to put on a show, with each more elaborate and creative than the last. The top three most memorable are the locomotive-themed set for fall/winter 2008, the optic white carousel for spring/summer 2012 and the quadruple escalators for spring/summer 2013.
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Courtesy Marc Jacobs; AFP/Getty Images
His Influences at Louis Vuitton
While Marc Jacobs’ eponymous line and his work for LV are ‘never similar,’ he has previously told InStyle that the lines both target a “woman who likes to indulge in whatever appeals to her, a woman who likes to revel in her whims.” Likewise, the designer has always reveled in his own oddities, like his obsession for Spongebob Squarepants. When the Spongebob-inspired Marc Jacobs spring 2008 line came under attack, the designer unapologetically clutched a Spongebob bag down the LV runway. Another example of a crossover between the two brands: At the LV spring/summer 2014 show, the designer painted the models’ digits in a new indigo-black shade “Midnight in Paris” from his Marc Jacobs lacquer collection.
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Paola Cravino Photography; Courtesy Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs Exhibition
Despite Marc Jacobs’ influences on the LV brand, the designer has never forgotten the luxury house’s heritage. The Paris exhibit in 2012 (at Les Arts Decoratifs) gave a historical perspective on the brand, whether its a 19th-century trunk or “my team forging a union of culture, art and commerce,” Jacobs told InStyle. In a tale of two cities, the designer (who moved to Paris in 1999) had split his time between New York and Paris, crediting both as a source for inspiration: “Both cities offer profound yet contrasting catalysts for creativity. In New York, I’m inspired by my friends…the movies I see, the music I listen to. Then I go back to Paris and the team there allows me the frivolity of my fantasy as a designer living in Paris.”