Fade to black. After months of speculation about the status of Marc Jacobs' contract at Louis Vuitton, the writing was on the wall today. The staging of the show re-created many of the sets from his sixteen-year tenure at the LVMH-owned house: the elevators, the escalators, the carousel, the fountain, last season's hotel corridors—they were all there, a reminder of the designer's extraordinary showmanship, only rendered this time in shades of black. After the show, Jacobs confirmed that he and his business partner, Robert Duffy, would be leaving the French luxury goods house. It's said that they will focus on an IPO of the Marc Jacobs company, in which LVMH is also an investor.

So it was good-bye today on the runway. But despite the mournful implications of the all-black clothes, it didn't feel like a sad affair. Jacobs dedicated the collection to the many women who've touched or influenced him during his decade and a half in Paris, including designer muses Coco Chanel, Rei Kawakubo, and Miuccia Prada. You saw bits and pieces of their work in this collection, in addition to callbacks to his own greatest hits. "To the showgirl in all of us," was how he signed off his program notes.

Among the forty-one looks, some more than others resembled showgirl clothes, but nearly all of them were elaborately ornamented with combinations of jet beads, crystals, and glossy feathers. Each and every one of the models wore an extravagant Stephen Jones-designed headpiece of ostrich plumes. And yet you could feel the influence of the street in the same way you did at Jacobs' New York show. That had a lot to do with the flat shoes that the models padded along in on the Mongolian lamb rugs; the heavily embellished biker jackets (instant collector's items, those); and a not-insignificant emphasis on denim, both the faded blue variety worn underneath tulle tank dresses with a twenties spirit, and in crafty patchworks of black paired with mannish blazers. Jacobs seemed to be making a point with those all-Americanisms, and a timely one at that, given his imminent refocusing on his own New York-born brand. It was perhaps no surprise that the American press led the standing ovation.

Jacobs reversed the fortunes of Louis Vuitton, and whatever the behind-the-scenes negotiations of the past few months, he and Duffy appear to be leaving on good terms. There were heartfelt hugs all around backstage. But don't forget, the designer raised some hell along the way, and he didn't completely shy away from a little provocation here either. Naked save for a G-string and the Stephen Sprouse-designed LV logo scrawled all over her body, Edie Campbell made her runway circuit in handcuffs and chains. Among the many challenges that will face Jacobs' successor at Vuitton, when he or she is eventually named, will be living up to a fearless, fabulous moment like that.