Marc Jacobs, one of the greatest American talents to conquer the perilous stage of French fashion with a 16-year career as the designer of Louis Vuitton, during which he produced megahit accessories and elaborate runway spectacles, is leaving the company to focus on his signature business in New York.
Bernard Arnault, the chairman of the luxury conglomerate LVMH, said on Wednesday that the company has come to an agreement with Mr. Jacobs and that it plans to take the Marc Jacobs company public, possibly within the next three years.
“When we started together, Marc Jacobs was a tiny little business of around $20 million,” Mr. Arnault said. “Now the totality of sales is approaching $1 billion. It has been an enormous growth.”
Mr. Arnault and other members of the Arnault family, including his daughter, Delphine, an executive vice president of Louis Vuitton, attended the company’s runway show on Wednesday morning, when reports that Mr. Jacobs, 50, would leave the company were first confirmed.
Marc Jacobs had the right to a farewell show, which was also an exquisite romp through the history of Mr. Jacobs at Vuitton, described by the designer as a tribute “to the showgirl in all of us,” with a combination of elaborate feather headdresses and black evening gowns with sheer insets and American sportswear looks, including loose jeans, football uniform pants and a varsity jacket that said “Paris” on the back. It began with a model who wore a transparent bodysuit with the name of the label written all over in a repeating black graffiti-style logo that was originally created by Stephen Sprouse for a Vuitton handbag design in 2000.
Those handbags were both a metaphor for Mr. Jacobs’s irreverent approach to stuffy French fashion, and also among the most successful in the history of the company. At the end of the show on Wednesday, Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, led a standing ovation, an exceedingly rare event at fashion shows, and she was soon joined by the entire American press, as well as the Arnault family.
His departure had been expected for several months, though it was not clear until Wednesday that he was definitively leaving. “Marc is absolutely significant to fashion,” said Ken Downing, the fashion director of Neiman Marcus. “But as we have seen at many other houses, designers have taken a hiatus or been replaced by other talents.”
The potential of a Marc Jacobs public offering has been described as an opportunity for Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Duffy to further invest in their brand. But for that to happen, it was seen by executives on both sides as necessary for Mr. Jacobs to return full time to his own company.