All the rumors were true, as they so often are. Yesterday’s Louis Vuitton Spring 2014 show was Marc Jacobs’ last at the helm of the brand that he’s lead for 16 years, drawing to an end one of the most prolific and lucrative partnerships in modern fashion history. Jacobs’ has never been a man for subtle statements, and he went out in a way that only he could – with an almost entirely black show that referenced some of his greatest hits for the brand and closed with a round of showgirls wearing little more than thousands of meticulously placed jet beads.

I think most of us, me included, thought that there was a decent chance Alexander Wang might fall flat on his face at the helm of Balenciaga. Maybe not probable, but not exactly impossible, either. Thankfully, Wang’s results in two seasons as Balenciaga’s creative director have yielded the exact opposite – two focused, luxurious, modern collections that are built solidly atop Balenciaga’s historic foundation.

If you’re in the mood for a fun, exuberant, spring-like bag collection, Bottega Veneta Spring 2014 is simply not for you. On the other hand, if you’d like something slightly dour and vaguely Japanese (in the bags, at least – there was no vagueness in the clothes), well, step right up and take a look. There’s enough grey for everybody, even if you weren’t really looking for any.

Usually, I can count on Italy to give me at least one collection of handbags per season that hits me right in the heart. The Italians know their leather, and their Fashion Week is stocked with brands as well known for their bags as they are for anything. This time around, though, Milan Fashion Week Spring 2014 felt at times more like it was revisiting its greatest hits than charting new territory.

Every season, the fashion season frets over trends. Every season, the fashion industry tries to find new inspiration, new materials, new shapes, new colors. Every season, we try to reinvent the wheel, while every season, Dolce & Gabbana trots right alongside us, doing its own parallel thing and selling clothes and accessories hand over fist. It feels like it’s been a decade since Dolce gave us a collection that wasn’t overtly and aggressively inspired by Domenico Dolce’s homeland of Sicily (actual time: 2.5 years), and the brand may very well never give us another non-Sicilian collection again, for all I care.

Sometimes feminism and the fashion industry find themselves at odds, but Miuccia Prada has been dutifully doing her part for years to demonstrate that the two can peacefully coexist, and, what’s more, fashion can actually act in service of female equality and women’s rights. For Prada Spring 2014, she chose to do that in a somewhat literal way – she commissioned pieces from six artists, all of which depict women’s faces, and recreated them in her show space and on many of the items of clothing themselves, including the bags.

For the past two seasons in a row, Fendi handbags have been easily my favorites of Fashion Week, both Milan and beyond. Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi have combined to create handbags that meticulously walk the line between luxury and innovation, a line of which almost all other designers choose to fall to one side or the other. As in previous seasons, the bags of Fendi Spring 2014 are very well balanced.

If you don’t like fringe, it’s not time to panic quite yet. Generally, Gucci runways display a small, hyper-focused fraction of the bags that are forthcoming from the brand for any particular season’s collection, and this season, the aforementioned focus happened to include quite a bit of fringe. Long fringe. Creative director Frida Giannini has a tendency to add bohemian touches to the brand’s signature sexy, luxurious look, and that seems to be the avenue she’s decided to take with these bags.

London Fashion Week is by far the shortest of the four major global fashion parades, but in a lot of ways, it’s my favorite. The British have developed a very distinct spot in the fashion world for themselves and their bold, young designers, and that means that looking at the collections that surface from LFW can at times feel like peering into the future.

Marc Jacobs is pretty good at subverting expectations, but he might have outdone himself with the Marc Jacobs Spring 2014 show. He lead everyone into a cavernous (and sweltering) beach scene, and then instead of showing the deconstructed swimwear the scene seemed to imply, we got tapestry, tassels and high-neck lace dresses. The only thing the runway was missing was a Victorian-style, full-coverage swimsuit.

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