Marking the 20th anniversary of Louis Vuitton in China the newly renovated National Museum of China will be exhibiting Louis Vuitton Voyage for the next three months.
Marking the 20th anniversary of Louis Vuitton in China the newly renovated National Museum of China will be exhibiting Louis Vuitton Voyage for the next three months. Celebrating the fashion house’s blend of tradition, innovation and luxury heritage, Patrick Louis Vuitton (the 5th generation family member overseeing the business) opened the show last week, 157 years since it was founded. From humble beginnings when Louis Vuitton first introduced his flat-bottom trunks in 1854 – with trianon canvas making them lightweight and airtight – the fashion brand has firmly established itself as one of the finest purveyors of luxury trunks, leather goods and ready-to-wear clothes, accessories and shoes. Accompanying great explorers and important figures for more than a century, Louis Vuitton has been the luggagewear of choice for globetrotters throughout history. Catherine Deneuve, Sarah Bernhardt, Yvette Guilbert, Josephine Baker and Jeanne Lanvin were all avid collectors of Louis Vuitton’s beautiful luggage, tailored to their lifestyles: from jewellery boxes with secret drawers, vanity cases with a host of crystal bottles, ivory and tortoiseshell brushes to hat, shoe and gloves boxes. Actors such as Sacha Guitry owned customised wardrobe trunks to safeguard his treasures and today Karl Lagerfeld carries all his favourite tracks in a music library case meticulously fashioned to hold his iPods.
Taking visitors on a fascinating journey of discovery, tracing Louis Vuitton’s legacy from its roots, the exhibition explores the house’s enduring appeal, success and endless ability to reinvent itself. As viewers enter the show they are welcomed by artist Zhan Wang’s The Beginning – a spectacular abstract artwork that tells a story of a voyage through time. Delving into the heart of Louis Vuitton, visitors are then taken on a walk-through story of the founder’s initial inspirations and desires through to the iconic LV label that exists today. The exhibition’s digital room allows visitors to enter a futuristic getaway through a virtual journey on the big screen, translating scenes from the shop on rue Scribe to the façades of the Maison on the Champs-Elysées.
Louis Vuitton opened its first store in China in 1992 at Beijing’s Peninsual Hotel and, whilst a daring move at a time when the country had no luxury in terms of privileged lifestyle, today its Asian presence is meteoric. Directly operating all stores over the territories of China, from Harbin to Sanya and Urumqi to Shanghai, Louis Vuitton has come a long way in 20 years never mind 157.
Louis Vuitton Voyages runs at the National Museum of China, Beijing until August 30 2011.
Text by Lucia Davies