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During the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, which attracted 48 million visitors, Louis Vuitton displays her travels and the most innovative and stylish handbags in a cabin like a ride in the iconic glass dome of the Grand Palais, built especially for the occasion. Fast forward to 2015. The famous luxury house known for its monogrammed trunks and bags returned to reoccupy the historic building with Fly, Sail, Journey, an exhibition showcasing remarkable journey of Louis Vuitton from 1854 until today ‘ hui, defined by its visionary founders, illustrious guests and many inventions, takes us on a journey through time. 600 objects from the archives Vuitton, the fashion museum in Paris, Palais Galliera, private institutions and private collections, including eccentric trunks, cases of ancient beauty, leather bags, vintage clothing, documents, drawings and photographs and contemporary designs as modern celebrity baggage time, perfumes and current mode for woman artistic director of the brand, Nicolas Ghesquière, were divided into nine chapters in this retrospective which runs until 21 February 2016. Creative set with custom designs devised by artistic director Robert Carsen, he was curator of the exhibition by Olivier Saillard, director of the Musée Galliera, which drew from the archives of the house consists of 23,000 items and 165,000 documents, including 110,000 customer records. He was the ideal person to present the history of the brand, as it has a high reverence for antiquity, absolutely adamant that he is a being who belongs to the past.

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The story begins with Louis Vuitton, which, in 1835, at the age of 14 left the mountains and forests of his native Jura in eastern France to Paris, a trip of 280 miles which he took two years to complete on foot. Coming from a family of carpenters, he was already very familiar with the woods and started as an apprentice box manufacturer and packer in the French capital, before creating his own company, the publicity it “packs in all security the most fragile objects. specialized packaging for fashion. “Louis soon became the supplier for elegant women who were admirers of the Empress Eugenie in the grandeur of the Second Empire, when Charles Frederick Worth invented haute couture. He then mastered the first flat trunk, considered the predecessor of today’s luggage. While constantly improving the strength, lightness and functionality of their trunks, Louis and his descendants reinvented fabrics and solid colors based patterns and stripes or checkered backgrounds, gives the brand its unique signature and protection against counterfeiters Le Trianon 1854 gray linen. – lighter than leather and the oldest existing materials on the trunks Vuitton – was followed by a striped cloth in 1872 in shades of red and brown and beige and brown, before the Damier canvas in 1888.

unobstructed view of 1906 lower trunk in Monogram canvas, which belonged to Gaston-Louis Vuitton; the trunk contains more locking compartments and comes in a leather finish as showing the signature characteristics and craftsmanship of Louis Vuitton creations (Photo courtesy of Louis Vuitton Malletier)
unobstructed view of 1906 lower trunk in Monogram canvas, which belonged to Gaston-Louis Vuitton; the trunk contains more locking compartments and comes in a leather finish as showing the signature characteristics and craftsmanship of Louis Vuitton creations (Photo courtesy of Louis Vuitton Malletier)

As much an anti-counterfeiting tool as a tribute to his father, the famous Monogram canvas was created in 1896 by Louis’s son, George. Inspired by medieval and Japanese influences, it has a repeated pattern of flowers, plants, geometric shapes and the famous initials “BT” mixing a coat of arms with the aristocratic emblems. The lock grooves unpickable allowing customers to open their luggage with a single, unique key designed in 1890 by Georges is also highlighted in Fly, Sail, Travel. Having just celebrated two decades of curating more than 100 exhibitions, Saillard was given carte blanche to design the retrospective. He said: “I created the show as a portrait of different people: Louis Vuitton, Georges Vuitton, Jean and Pierre Vuitton and Gaston-Louis Vuitton. The trunk is a brand portrait Vuitton. It is the means to understand the exhibition. When Bernard Arnault asked there about two years if I curate a major retrospective, I asked him to be immersed in the Vuitton archives. I am very surprised how big the collection was not only objects, but all the documents, which are memories of different times in the life of society. I organized the exhibition on the basis of this selection of trunks, bags and documents. Wood was very important for me because it is the beginning of history. I come from the same part of France as Louis – I know the fields, landscapes, views, so it was like to return to my country. huge importance is placed on the wood in this area, and when Louis decided to leave this place, he knew very well how to work with wood as a carpenter. If you try to understand how a trunk is done, you can see the structure is made of wood, so it was very important to have the first part of the exhibition devoted to the wood. ”

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The trunk is indeed the star of the show. All shapes, sizes and designs, there is first a vertical cabinet marks the trunk from 1875 where its effects were hanged, which means that people can still travel in style, equipped with the necessities and comfort of daily life, to ensure the success of a house already specialized in the art of travel. In the hands of Louis Vuitton, traveling has become an art, and today his trunks and bags continue to reflect our lifestyle increasingly nomadic. Focusing on functionality, there must be harmony between content and container, and the mark with almost all new modes: cruise ships, trains, cars and planes. Steamships entered service in 1830, the railways in 1848, the automobile in the 1890s and commercial airlines in the 1900s, Vuitton and adapted to new habits and experiences of life, always with elegance, representing the french art of living. Saillard noted, “Louis was the greatest traveler. Everything was invented to make it possible to travel. And that was not easy as today. He did it from the start to move more easily.”