A pod-like structure was plopped in the middle of the Westfield Century City Atrium from May 18 to June 10. Inside it nestled treasures from the last 164 years of the great fashion house Louis Vuitton. I stepped inside–itching to see some artifacts of history that were also archives of fashion.
I kid you not when I say archives. The exihbition featured LV signature canvas trunks dating back to 1872 that rested next to modern toolboxes and trunks inspired by pieces from over a century and a half ago. According to the exhibition, trunks became the first acclaimed pieces of Louis Vuitton–associating the brand with the allure of travel and cultural expanse. The backdrop to LV roots was the Industrial Revolution around the world that sprouted railroads. When humanity became more mobile, the fashionable needed their traveling companions. Louis Vuitton filled that need.
According to the exhibition pamphlet, the genesis of Louis Vuitton’s (the founder of the brand) career was as Empress Eugenie’s (wife to Napoleon III) “favorite embelleur, an expert in the art of packing.” As Eugenie was both influential from a royal and fashion standpoint amongst her friends and subjects in 19th century France, her royal seal of approval brought Vuitton more customers, expanding his luggage business in France—one that Independent said would live longer than Napoleon III’s empire.
Since then, the brand has expanded to other travel accessories like a shoe box in collaboration with Manolo Blahnik, every day wear, couture made for red carpets–and even record players with matching record cases. Louis Vuitton has made itself functional for every aspect of a person’s life. You could say Empress Eugenie was the OG “brand ambassador” before celebrity became a concept and notables like Sophie Turner and Emma Stone (by the way, the exhibition also had Emma Stone’s LV Time’s Up dress from the last Golden Globes) became LV brand ambassadors.
And we as a modern age of consumers, like Eugenie’s subjects back in the 1800s, look to these celebrities and want to wear Louis Vuitton because of the connotations that come with it: well-traveled, artistically literate (I mean how can we not be if we’re carrying an LV bag with a Da Vinci or Turner piece printed on it?), and luxurious. LV has come a long way since its humble luggage-making days.
The exhibition had pieces from the past, from the present, and even futuristic-evoking screen installations in the last part of the retrospective: the Magic Malle. The malle was clothed in screens that displayed a digital timeline of the brand, past runway shows…there was even a screen-covered luggage in the middle of the room that evolved from the 19th century luggage design all the way to the most recent Louis Vuitton luggage canvas. To say this exhibition was phenomenal would be an understatement. I am proud to be an LV consumer and be a part of its history through creating my own experiences with the bags I carry.
Keeping it Krischic,
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