October 05, 2011 04:00 PM

Joseph Kerlakian/Startraks (2)

The word on everyone’s lips was “magical.”

Designer Marc Jacobs‘s spring/summer 2012 collection for Louis Vuitton, presented in the Louvre’s Cour Carrée in Paris as a tableaux with 48 models descending on a slow-turning white carousel, left his audience largely speechless, continuing to build word that the designer is destined for Christian Dior.

“It was poetic. Amazing and magical,” Olivia Wilde told PEOPLE. “I’ve seen fashion shows before but this was my first Paris show of this size, this beauty. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life before.”

Uma Thurman, who sat front row alongside beau Arpad Busson, was equally enthusiastic, summarizing the eight-minute show as “magic. Dreamgirls. Serendipity. It was beautiful.”

“It had such a positive message,” model Natalia Vodianova added. “The clothes were absolutely lovely and the carousel … the music was so much about innocence and childhood. I so much enjoy watching the shows — but this is one that I wished I had walked.'”

With Nicole Richie, Joel Madden, Abbie Cornish and Rachel Zoe joining Wilde, Vodianova and Thurman in the front row — not to mention every LMVH decision maker and Dior president and CEO Sidney Toledano in attendance — Jacobs presented pieces demonstrating his mastery of technology.

As the carousel turned, models including Kate Moss stepped one after another from their ponies to show off signature laser-cut and embossed leathers, silk chambray in pastels, exotic leather motorcycle jackets worn with maillot de bain as well as beaded dresses with enough understated elements to convince anyone Jacobs is more than up to the task of Dior’s couture work.

Nicolas Gouhier/ABACA; Inset: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis

The designer himself was pleased. “I wanted something magical, this is what I expected and I loved it,” he affirmed afterward. The inspiration, he added, “was a carousel I see every year in the spring here in Paris’s Tuileries Gardens.

“But the carousel was also a metaphor for fashion,” he added. “The way it goes round and round … and how there is no end to fashion. How it’s a beautiful ride. And there is no end to its beauty.”

With speculation rampant that Jacobs will soon be officially announced to head France’s most prestigious couture house, the designer would not dismiss reports. “I don’t have anything to say about Dior,” he told PEOPLE. “This is a Louis Vuitton show. I work for Louis Vuitton.”

Jacobs’s refusal to discuss reports that he is being offered $10 million to move from Vuitton to Dior did not stop backstage talk, though. “This,” one fashion insider opined, “was a show which said: ‘The sky’s the limit.’ Draw your own conclusions. This is exactly what Dior needs after Galliano — it was beauty, not chic. It was about beautiful clothing, made with passion. It is was what Dior needs now.”

“This was a couture show which demonstrates he can do Dior,” added veteran fashion reporter Madeleine Czigler. “This was a perfect test drive meant to show, ‘Yes, I can do Dior.’ And after seeing it, there isn’t a question in anyone’s mind that he can do the job.”

–Peter Mikelbank


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