A current exhibit in Les Arts Décoratifs
Museum in Paris has the fashion
minded abuzz as the luxury giant, Louis Vuitton
, along with its Creative Director, designer Marc Jacobs
, are presented side by side in a retrospective exhibit showcasing the growth of the Vuitton brand from its debut in 1854 to its position today as one of the world’s most recognized and profitable labels. The exhibit explores the unique
relationship between two men, one a luggage maker who founded the company over a century
ago, the other, a designer in his own right who today serves the label as its artistic muse.
The exhibit is divided into two floors. The first floor covers the history of the company, it’s origins and all the innovations and expansions it underwent for over a century. The second floor is adorned with elements introduced since the naming of Marc Jacobs as Creative Director. One immediately recognizes a distinct edginess in Jacobs’ designs, all the while keeping with the integrity of the label’s luxury and class, but with a touch of daring. The exceptional chemistry of two innovative minds manifests itself in this truly spectacular exhibition, combining function and fashion, history and art.
|Famille Vuitton, 1888
The past century has immortalized Louis Vuitton’s iconic
, making the label a staple in luxury goods and high fashion. The French fashion house was originally founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton as Louis Vuitton Matellier, a manufacturer of travel
goods. As luggage makers, Louis Vuitton redesigned trunks
from having round tops, to flat tops giving Louis Vuitton trunks the ability to become stacked with ease for long voyages. It is this innovation in design
that put them ahead of the luggage industry at the time. Today, Louis Vuitton offers a great combination of materials, interpretations, shapes, design, and function that all began with a simple traveling trunk.
|Louis Vuitton Flagship Store on the Champs-Elysses in Paris.
Due to the success of the design, many luggage manufacturers began to imitate Louis Vuitton. The previously popular round-top trunks were designed for rain water run off from the tops of luggage in between transit times during travel over water. Vuitton’s innovation to flat top and bottom trunks made them stackable and easier for mass transport. Louis Vuitton trunks were made with a gray trianon canvas which was lightweight and airtight. Throughout the formative years of the Louis Vuitton company, however, in order to avoid straight imitations and counterfeiting, the look of their luggage would evolve to become the unmistakable monogram design the world knows today. Upon the introduction of the Damier pattern (shown above), Vuitton began placing “marque L. Vuitton déposée” inside each trunk to further foil any counterfitting efforts by off brand designers and competitors.
|Images from lvtrunks.com’s History of Louis Vuitton trunks
The exhibit currently open at Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris showcases a selection of original Louis Vuitton trunks, stacked in the way that made their travel friendliness capabilities so desirable. Huge displays of Louis Vuitton’s legendary trunks line the corridors of the exhibit, including a fully unfolded display of Louis Vuitton’s ingenious bed-trunk.
As the exhibit leaves history behind and moves toward a glimpse into the modern
day state under the guidance of Marc Jacobs, a warning is posted cautioning visitors of the bizarre twist about to occur. While the previous displays and pieces pay homage to the founders of Louis Vuitton, the second part of the exhibit focuses on the reign of Marc Jacobs and his drastic new influence on the label over the last 15 years. Since becoming its Artistic/Creative Director in 1997, Jacobs greatly expanded the brand by successfully incorporating ready-to-wear collections for men and women as well as fashion accessories
into Louis Vuitton’s product line, even transforming
the iconic Louis Vuitton handbag by playing with different designs, shapes, and colors. While Louis’s floor was very much a retrospective
of the brand’s history, Marc’s floor is more a celebration of what Jacobs has done with the brand during his current stewardship.
|Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2012 fashion show
Born in New York City, Jacobs’ formative years were spent studying fashion at Parson’s School of Design. In 2011, Time Magazine
named Jacobs in the Time 100 as one the of world’s 100 Most Influential
People. He ranked 12th in Out Magazine
‘s list of the Top 50 Most Powerful
Gay Men and Women in 2011. Unpredictable and a bit provacateur, Jacobs has a habit of consistently scaring and stunning
the fashion world, of shocking and inspiring awe at the same time. He has known great success with his own namesake line. As Creative Director of Loius Vuitton, Jacobs has been instrumental in transitioning the label from a solely luxury
brand, to an accessible ready-to-wear, widely desirable
symbol of fashion.
Entering the Jacobs part of the exhibit, the visitor catches a rare glimpse into the mind and imagination of this brilliant designer. A wall covered with videos and images of cultural icons and influences (all handpicked by Marc himself) includes vignettes of fashion icons, historical figures, and scenes from old films that all come together to form a very campy view into the mind of a true genius.
Further into the exhibit, many of the iconic looks that Jacobs has created for Louis Vuitton in the past are on display, including Kate Moss’ dominatrix outfit from Vuitton’s Fall 2011 show, worn by a mannequin on all fours with a panther’s head in a cage with golden
bars, tapping into the slight insanity and tinge of crazy that makes Jacobs’ vision
Similar to the window showcasing Louis Vuitton’s iconic luggage, a wall meant to imitate the look of a box of chocolates is used to display 53 of Marc Jacobs’ handbags. The rest of the exhibit carries the same eclectic tone, appropriately paralleled with the unique vision and strong innovations and statement it is trying to make about the progressive success that has been brought about by Marc Jacobs.
The exhibit runs from March 9 to September 15, 2012. If this summer you find yourself in Paris looking to see a wonderful thing, visit Les Art Decoratifs, and enjoy this wonderful show.