At the tender age of 16, after having walked to Paris from his hometown of Jura, France over the course of nearly two years, Louis Vuitton began an expedition that would live on in history. As a young boy, Mr. Louis Vuitton began apprenticing for Monsieur Marechal. In these days of horse drawn carriages, boats and trains, when the rough handling of luggage mandated it be light weight, yet durable, quality was important. Mr. Vuitton quickly became a master of the art of carpentry making solid trunks and soon thereafter launched his own label of handmade leather goods, Louis Vuitton. This is the story of his vision and the House of Louis Vuitton.
In an empty building in downtown Manhattan formerly known as the American Stock Exchange, sits an exhibit like no other – “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton” (translated as Fly, Sell, Travel – Louis Vuitton). The historic journey of Mr. Louis Vuitton’s life is told through a carefully curated collection of portraits of it’s founders, designs of it’s taste makers, and of course, a beautiful collection of artifacts and articles from throughout history.
Divided into 10 chapters, the tour is an overview of the heritage and history of the iconic brand, starting with an homage to the piece that put the House of Louis Vuitton on the map, the world renowned trunk – the quintessential item in the jet-set traveler’s arsenal. Classic pieces, more than 150 years old, sit displayed in various forms, showcasing the craftsmanship, vision and ingenuity of one of the world’s finest trunk and leather goods maker.
As visitors transition through the early chapters of the exhibit, they are greeted by more dazzling pieces, each showcased in a room representing a form of travel – planes, yachts and trains – decorated and designed with a display of the corresponding mode of transportation. Later in the exhibit, curator Olivier Saillard, displays gowns, trunks and other masterful pieces owned by some of the world’s most famous celebrities including Greta Garbo, Lauren Bacall and Elizabeth Taylor.
What is the most fascinating aspect of Vuitton’s mastery, is that trunks were used to carry and display all types of needs. Whether globetrotters were in need of a bed, a traveling closet, or even a desk, somehow, Louis Vuitton envisioned, designed and brought to life these everyday demands in the form of a carrying trunk.
Saillard shares Mr. Vuitton’s vision. Interpreting it to Vogue in a recent article, he says, “Since the beginning of the story of Louis Vuitton himself, it is about travel, about bringing something with you in your trunk, in your bag, and this idea of travel is following the story of motion through trains, boats, planes, but also traveling in dreams, in art. That is for me, the soul of the brand.”
The brand, now more than 163 years old, continues to be progressive, innovative and changing the world of luxury goods, one bag at a time. So much so, that even other influencers jump at the chance to collaborate on one-of-a-kind collections. Some of these brands include Supreme, Jeff Koons, Kark Lagerfeld, Takashi Murakami, and the most notable of all, Yayoi Kusama – the most expensive piece in the entire exhibit’s collection.
But, perhaps the best part of the exhibit, is an ode to America – the country which gave the brand a chance. In 1893, 39 years after the House of Louis Vuitton was founded in Paris, Mr. Vuitton’s son Georges attended the World’s Fair in Chicago, where he met one of the country’s first department store owner who debuted the LV label in his stores. Since then, it has been a mainstay among America’s families.
The exhibit, originating in Paris, traveling to Tokyo, Seoul and now, New York City, is free and open to the public and will be on display until January 7th, 2018. To reserve your free tickets visit – https://ticketing.louisvuitton.com/content/ticket-options.