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Lots of Value

By Timothy Hagy

PARIS, January 29 - Some things at Louis Vuitton are consistent: sumptuous invitations addressed in calligraphy and delivered by courier, fine champagne and canapés served in the glass temple greenhouse of Parc André Citroën (Paris glittering in the background), first rate shows where no expense is spared, and if Marc Jacobs is to be believed, a designer who could care less about men's wear. In an interview published in issue seven of Butt magazine, Jacobs fessed up: "You know I¹m very happy with the team that does men¹s wear for us, with Keith, and with Olivier and Willy and Peter. I sometimes wish I were more involved. But men¹s wear is not something I¹m really good at. In fact, men¹s fashion frightens me. I really find men who are fashionably dressed terribly unsexy."

Fashionable might not be the word to describe the collection shown on Saturday evening, so much as ostentatious. Then again, with Vuitton's fourth quarter sales skyrocketing, perhaps men sporting navy blue ostrich leather sacks, trenches made from foal leather, capes fluttering in cashmere, jeans shimmering in crushed corduroy, and a froth of fox and astrakhan here and there, provide a pleasant contrast to a world otherwise distraught over tidal waves, genocide and an ineptly-run Iraq war. Rudoph Nureyev's wardrobe was inspiration for the show, but it would take more than the late dancer's graceful pirouette to make sense out of the timing.

When other designers are showing understated, left-leaning Bohemian collections this season, Vuitton has gone right for the Bushies - save for the fact that multi-millionaire Vice President Cheney preferred an olive drab parka, his name spelled on the hood, and a knit ski cap reading "Staff 2001", at the recent Aushwitz commemoration.

Maybe it would just be easier to launch a line of rhinestone brooches plastered with a not-so-subtle logo: "Hey - I'm Rich".


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