Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Elegant World of Louis Vuitton and the Invention of Travel

A big, beautiful exhibition created by Louis Vuitton is now open downtown inside the American Stock Exchange Building at 86 Trinity Place until January 7th. Called "Volez, Voguez, Voyagez" ("to fly, to sail, to travel"), the exhibition celebrates the history of the French luxury heritage brand and the invention of travel at the turn of the last century. Louis Vuitton has built inside the Stock Exchange a two floor museum with 16 rooms. It's quite a dazzling feat and I highly recommend a visit to anyone who is interested in luxury brands and beautiful things and the history of fashion. I am helping out at Louis Vuitton as a docent giving tours through this show. Admission is free and you can find out how to reserve tickets and sign up for a tour here.

Mr. Louis Vuitton was born in 1821 in a small village in eastern France. Both of his parents died, and when he was 14, he decided to walk to Paris. Ambitious boy. The 300 mile journey took him two years, and when he arrived in Paris, he got a job in a wood shop learning how to craft packing boxes and crates. In 1854, at the age of 33, he opened his own house, creating modern trunks for the elite. Indeed, Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napolean III was a client. After Louis Vuitton died, his son George and then his grandson Gaston increased the business and the success of the house. Today, 163 years after it was founded, Louis Vuitton is the number one ranked luxury brand in the world.
Curated by Olivier Saillard, each room of the exhibition has a theme. This one below features travel on the high seas –

In the aviation room, a life size airplane soars overhead –

One room with a giant Murano glass chandelier and tented ceiling celebrates the stars of Hollywood who traveled with Louis Vuitton luggage –

A Lartigue photograph captures the chic style of the time –

The trunk of French couturier Paul Poiret, who was the subject of a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is laid carefully with his painter's jacket –

Perhaps my favorite piece is tucked in a corner - it is the trunk of General Douglas MacArthur with his monogram on the top and a handsome stripe down the side –

There is a lot to see here and the show is very popular. I recommend visiting on a weekday, or if you come on a weekend day, come early before the line gets long. And enjoy this elegant journey.