PARIS — Perched side-saddle on an old-fashioned merry-go-round, Louis Vuitton's belles for next spring came wrapped in broderie anglaise in baby doll tones of cupcake or candyfloss, as Paris' nine-day fashion marathon drew to a close on Wednesday.
Marc Jacobs, one of the world's most talked-about designers since he was tipped to succeed the disgraced John Galliano at Christian Dior, drew warm applause for what may be his swansong at Vuitton in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum.
Broderie anglaise, a type of embroidery with little eyelets edged in buttonhole stitches, was the keystone of the look, with innocent-looking, outsized daisies adorning buttoned-up blouse collars, skirt suits and dresses.
Baby blues and pinks, soft yellows and mint greens set the mood, except for a handful of greys or navies with bright white underskirts peeping through flower-shaped holes.
Backstage, Jacobs -- who conjured up saucy hotel chambermaids for his last Vuitton ready-to-wear collection -- told AFP he went this time for a look that was "soft, soothing, gentle, light, tender, feminine, airy, loving".
"A frosted sugary, sponge sugar type of feeling -- like wrappers on a candy," something "very naive and simple," summed up the New York designer, himself a tall dark, green-eyed figure dressed all in white for the occasion.
Ultra-light, frothy pastel organza was laid over white broderie anglaise, laser-cut lace or crisp georgette crepe, with fabrics layered up to four times to produce the desired effect, he explained.
Buttoned-up white blouses sat above softly swelling skirts, with short jackets nipped in at the waist, for a look that was innocently feminine, with delicate pointed heels and hair pulled back into chignons under thin tiaras.
The gently-puffed skirts fell just the right side of prim, skimming the curve of the hip before stopping at the knee or just below, accessorised with an obligatory Louis Vuitton bag, or sometimes a parasol.
While Vuitton's suits cut an often exaggerated, curvy figure, dresses fell from the bust in a demure empire line -- with "ease at the waist", in the designer's own words.
Louis Vuitton was the headline event on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, itself the finale of a four-week marathon that has taken the global fashion pack from New York to London and Milan in search of the hottest new looks for spring-summer 2012.
Later on Wednesday, Lebanon's Elie Saab -- who often designs with the red carpet in mind -- showed a roll-call of sensual gowns, with deep plunging V necks, long pleated skirts and lots of transparency, in a riot of colours from rust to intense forest green or violet.
The week opened with a buzz of excitement at the prospect that Jacobs could be appointed at Dior, but the Paris house soon made it clear it would not make an announcement for weeks to come.
Jacobs made no mention of Dior, but he had a spirited line for reporters on the carousel motif, also used by Chanel in 2008, as "a metaphor for fashion", how it endlessly recycles and renews itself.
"It's good that there is no end! It's such a joy, it never ends."
The entire Vuitton show was over in a dizzying flash, as the 47 models slid one by one off their painted horses -- whose hooves were studded with an "LV" monogram -- took a turn before the audience and vanished.
Jacobs' last series of dresses, in sequined ivory broderie anglaise, was overstitched with ostrich feathers in fluttering blue, pink or yellow.
And for the fairytale finale, in a creamy ivory bubble dress cut high on the thigh, there was Kate Moss in a shimmer of fluffy white feathers, the icing on Vuitton's cake.
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