Animal prints stalk the catwalk at Louis Vuitton
"The relation between boredom and camp taste cannot be overestimated," read the notes placed on the seats at the Louis Vuitton show in Paris yesterday. "Camp taste is by its nature possible only in affluent societies, in societies or circles capable of experiencing the psychopathology of affluence."
Pretentious? Un petit peu, perhaps. After all, it's not every day that a purveyor of luxury goods resorts to quoting Susan Sontag to explain itself. In the end, no intellectual analysis was required. As if the raised black marble catwalk that greeted guests as they filed into the venue wasn't enough to establish that this label's designer, Marc Jacobs, was in mischievous mood, the mirrored backdrop, black and gold beaded curtain and stuffed tigers on pedestals that flanked the models as they came out drove the message home.
And the clothes? Audaciously enough, they were just as infused with irony as the set. Tailoring came covered in bouncing gold tassels. Flapper dresses were dripping with bugle-beaded fringing that danced in the light when the models walked. Purple orchids on black satin brought an aspirant Chinese restaurant as opposed to a grand Gallic status label to mind.
Imagine a woman in a pair of black, high-waisted, wide-legged tuxedo trousers, her top half stamped with garish animal print. Marti Caine anyone? At least some of the British contingent present will remember the northern comedienne's somewhat flamboyant personal style only too well.
Elsewhere came more time-honoured symbols of bad taste: sequined cummerbunds, Lurex, a cartoonish giraffe face printed onto a pristine white trouser suit, and the blocking of jarring 1970s colours that has been seen here and elsewhere this season.
Even the choreography was satirical: there were shades of Krizia and Armani as three models sashayed down the runway at a time, carrying metallic pink lacy fans. As the designer stepped out to take his bows, chewing gum and dressed in black satin jeans, he firmly established that he was part of this very expensive sartorial joke.
To some, such an outrageously irreverent statement will be seen as a mark of extreme confidence. Others will be quick to point out that he is playing a risky game. But Mr Jacobs has long flirted with danger and it has yet to do him much harm.