Louis Vuitton Decodes It's History in Paris

"Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton" exhibition

Published on 04 December 2015


Among the first of some 1,000 objects on display in “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton,” which opens to the public Friday and runs through Feb. 21, is a trunk from 1906 that rotates on a circular leather plinth to show off the hand-painted initials and other distinctive design details that persist to this day.
The exhibition unfurls across a series of sumptuously decorated rooms, each thematic rather than chronological. One, dedicated to wood and appointed with a Gustave Courbet painting of a tree and a jewelry case exalting shaping tools, recounts the story of the namesake founder, who journeyed from the densely wooded Jura region of France to Paris. Once in the capital, he embarked on a career as a packer, segueing into trunk making and founding his namesake house in 1854, at a time when there were some 200 such outfitters in Paris.

It’s not a fashion exhibition. It’s really the entire saga,” said Burke, explaining that curator Olivier Saillard of Paris fashion museum Palais Galliera drew countless links between the brand’s past and contemporary times, showcasing how lifestyles of the privileged have evolved over the years, propelled by advances in transportation.

Vintage photographs, clothes and accessories bring to life an array of eras in displays conceived by Robert Carson, an artistic director and set designer. For example, the automobile era is showcased in a narrow room decorated to resemble a typical French country road, flanked by rows of poplar trees, the wall cases displaying everything from driving helmets by Sonia Delaunay to a monogram car trunk from 1916 done up in vivid blue, eons ahead of Murakami’s bold brights.
Vuitton’s first handbag collection dates from 1910, a top-handled frame style in crosshatch leather and billed in an ad as “the lightest lady’s handbags,” available in an array of sizes.

“People who go there become cheerleaders for what they’re seeing,” Burke said. “These exhibitions need to be Internet-ready.”

Visitors to the Grand Palais are invited to download a free app to accompany them through the tour, allowing them to access an array of supplementary information, and to easily share imagery and opinions via Instagram and Twitter.