In a world dominated by anoraks, bobble hats, enamel badges and vacuum flasks, railways and fashion are not obvious partners. Most of us boys gave up finding trains sexy when we discovered girls. And most girls – of any age – have never found trains sexy at all.
So there was quite a flutter when with a whistle and a cloud of steam a blue Orient Express-style train pulled into the courtyard of the Paris Louvre yesterday to launch Marc Jacobs' new collection for Louis Vuitton. "We just imagined this romantic notion," said Jacobs. "It's the idea of the trip."
It's not the first time the catwalk has been linked with a railway. The Cuban designer Osmany Lafitta unveiled his 2007 summer collection on Platform Two of Prague's art nouveau station, and a curtain-raiser for London Fashion Week was staged on a Central Line train between Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road.
Even some of the trains we use every day are fashion icons. The Eurostar interiors were created by cult designer Philippe Starck, and the "high-speed trains" which ply from London to the Midlands and the West Country are the work of British designer Kenneth Grange, who is famous for a host of brilliant designs from the Instamatic camera to London's black cabs.
Marc Jacobs' replica train was hardly realistic. But who cares? He is right to realise that, even for girls, train travel is sexy again – whether you're racing at 225mph across Europe or relaxing aboard the gorgeous art deco carriages of the preserved Orient Express on your way to a romantic assignation in Venice.