“Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton
New York Exhibit Oct 27, 2017 through January 7, 2018.
If you happen to be traveling to New York, be sure to reserve your complimentary ducats to this exceptional exhibit. Even if you aren’t a personal fan of the LV Brand, you will be impressed by the story communicated in an amazing archival array of photos, timeworn receipts and personal notes about the House of Vuitton’s clients. Told in ten chapters, the exhibit initially unfolds with a set designed to replicate a subway platform as you begin your Travel Journey. The vast exhibit includes 1700 items filling 16 rooms with trunks, bags, clothing and specialized cases.
The exhibition was beautifully thought out to engage visitors of all ages, which has certainly contributed to the high attendance numbers. Toward the end of the exhibit, there are wall mounted Louis Vuitton logo squares which can be used for selfies. In one section of the automotive journey, the room has a broken line painted down the ‘highway’ floor dead ending at a panoramic vista at the end of the roadway. Completely engaging younger visitors, posing and photographing each other as they ‘walked the roadway’. The experience is masterfully directed as one would direct a film, opera or theatre experience.
One can reserve a guide or download a special App to start the exhibition by digitally tagging the walls. - Take photos with filters inspired by each room of Louis Vuitton exhibition. - Bring Louis Vuitton’s portrait to life with augmented reality. - Follow an expedition in the middle of the desert with augmented reality. - Customize a travel trunk with iconic hotel labels. - Leave a message in graffiti in the digital guest book. Clever and engaging exhibit.
Besides enjoying the visual flair of the story, I was impressed by the creative and inventive business acumen of the founder Louis Vuitton and the subsequent history of the House of Vuitton. Louis Vuitton began his work career as a box maker at age 16, in 1837, he arrived in Paris by foot and started apprenticing for Monsieur Maréchal. At the time, horse-drawn carriages, boats and trains were the main modes of transportation, and baggage was handled roughly. Travelers called upon craftsmen to pack and protect their individual objects, making boxes for the storage and shipment of fine goods was a prestigious enterprise.
Louis Vuitton quickly became a valued craftsman at the Parisian atelier of Monsieur Maréchal. These were the roots of his highly specialized trade; the beginnings of his career in an artisanal industry that called upon skills to custom design boxes and, later, trunks according to clients’ wishes. Louis Vuitton stayed for 17 years before opening his own workshop at 4 Rue Neuve-des-Capucines near the Place Vendome.
His fortunes changed for the better in 1853 when he was appointed as the personal trunk-maker to Empress Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III. He was assigned the responsibility of aesthetically packaging her clothes for transportation between the Tuileres Palace, the Château de Saint-Cloud and various seaside resorts. She charged him with “packing the most beautiful clothes in an exquisite way.” De Montijo provided Vuitton with a gateway to other elite and royal clients who provided him with work for the rest of his career.
He excelled in this position and the royal family was very happy with his services. This position also enabled him to attract elite and royal clientele to this day.
In 1858, Vuitton introduced his revolutionary stackable rectangular shaped trunks to a market that only had rounded trunk tops. This demand spurred his expansion into a larger workshop outside of Paris. The canvas sheathing on these trunks made them lighter and more waterproof than leather and the array of drawers and compartments could carry weeks’ worth of fancy ensembles. These trunks have been a centerpiece brand for over a century. It was Georges Vuitton who added the signature LV monogram to the canvas to foil counterfeiters. Louis Vuitton died in 1892, his son Georges inherited the firm. Gaston-Louis Vuitton, his grandson continued the hallmark traditions.
A compelling story unfolds as the House of Vuitton charts and seizes the ever-evolving transportation modes. Following the invention of cars, the House ‘partners’ with automotive makers to design trunks and cases specifically designed to fit the contours of interior and exterior spaces in automobiles.
In 1924, André Citroën organized his second African expedition dubbed Croisière noire (Black journey) all the way through Africa from Colomb-Béchar, Algeria to Cape Town, South-Africa. A convoy of 8 half-tracks and 24 men started their journey on 28th of October in 1924 and arrived in Cape Town on 26th of June in 1925, making them the first people to drive across the whole continent of Africa. Citroën commissioned House of Vuitton to build special trunks for the expedition, video and photos reveal an arduous journey, vehicles packed with Louis Vuitton trunks and cases in a particular color and trademarked in natural leather with the durable latches and hard metal corner details protecting the interior goods.
Innovative flat pack goods were created for yachting; a combination of leather and canvas. Boxes and trunks have been commissioned and built for just about every industry. Besides clothing, custom camera cases, the Roland-Garros’ legendary final tennis trophies are outfitted in special boxes. Traveling libraries, enclosed in a trunk that would insure 6 months of reading material with a typewriter. Required for the bookworm Louis Vuitton for a three to six-month transatlantic voyage. Music cases including a DJ box for vinyl records, a precious leather case for violinist and conductor Pierre Sechiari’s Stradivarius to protect the valuable instrument and bow. The invention of travel by car added to the empire of cases: footrest briefcases, elaborate picnic cases containing custom silver picnic necessities. Early cars were built without roofs, thus a fashionable traveler clutched a flat Morocco leather bag in her arms – most likely holding, a stole and gloves, and possibly a lap robe. It was the prelude to the handbag.
Voguez, Volez, Voyagez” exhibition, drew nearly 200,000 visitors at the Grand Palais in Paris, New York is expected to host 400,00 – to 500,000 visitors. In the 19th Century, the largest client base was American and the firm had designated the former American Stock Exchange building as the home for the local visit, waiting until it was available. Peer into the glass cases to understand the branding; the distinct stickers used for the insides of the trunks, the leather-bound notebooks inscribed with client name, a description of the bag or trunk, with the personal key number noted in the event one loses their key. Personal ephemera combined with early examples of travel trunks and cases bring this story to life. From ancient days to current, the trends and collaborations with Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Frank Gehry and many more are included. Sit on the soft sofas within the ‘train room’ recreating The Orient Express rail car set filled with fashion and hat boxes, with vineyards and other scenery whisking by on video monitors masking as windows. The props include a 70-foot mast and sail that brushes the ceiling of the high-ceilinged stock exchange; a bi-plane bursting through a wall bearing a bounty of travel bags on its wings.
The Art of Travel is an Epic Expedition of 163 years of history, chronicling the story of a young 14 year old boy who left his village by foot and began an apprenticeship in a Parisian box shop. Travel Through Time at this well crafted experiential exhibit.
The Art of Travel – highly recommend. “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton New York
Literally translated as“Fly! Sail! Travel!” the phrase was used in a vintage Louis Vuitton poster- and in a 2014 advertising campaign – encouraging clients to explore, wander and discover the world.