There is loving high fashion, buying high fashion, and studying high fashion. Often, I equate high fashion and couture wear to art, not only for the collectors value, but also for the craft. As a former Buyer and Strategic Planner for a retail Fortune 500 as well as being a model and fashion consultant, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing how fashion operates from multiple angles. However, short of living in major fashion cities or attending/taking courses at a fashion school, studying the history of fashion and fashion brands (beyond the easy Google search) can be more difficult. This is why I was so happy that Louis Vuitton created Volez, Voguez, Voyagez, an exhibition that takes you through the history, life and idiosyncracies of House of Louis Vuitton.
The exhibit started two years ago in Paris. Since then, it has been in Tokyo, Japan, in Seoul, South Korea and now is in New York City until January 7th, 2017. Given that Louis Vuitton is considered a high end traveling brand, it makes sense for the exhibition to go global. The exhibition was curated by Olivier Saillard, a well-known fashion curator. He’s also the man behind the Musée Galliéra’s Azzedine Alaïa retrospective in Paris as well as the “Eternity Dress” collaboration with Tilda Swinton in 2013. For any of my fellow fashion ladies, you know just what a treat this is.
Upon arriving to the exhibit, located in Lower Manhattan at the American Stock Exchange Building in New York City (86 Trinity Place NY, NY 10006), I excitedly walk in. The building has been transformed into the world of Louis Vuitton. I’m ready to get lost in style.
As I’m getting my ticket, I see a subway decorated in Louis Vuitton logos that’s projected on the wall to look like you’re in a Louis Vuitton subway station “arrives,” ready to whisk me away on my journey. I love the details specific to New York City.
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The exhibit has a wealth of information and I suggest that you book a guided tour or at least download the app so you can learn everything as you go through. If you really want to take your time and absorb everything (as well as have some serious Instagrammable moments!), set aside at least two hours for this exhibit.
The exhibit was enthralling as it was education, get into 11 facts that regarding House of Louis Vuitton that you might not have known (and won’t be able to simply just Wikipedia).
1. In 1835, at the age of 14, Louis Vuitton left his home and walked to Paris. It took him 2 years. Apparently after his mother died and his father remarried, his step-mother was horrendous and he vowed to never stay there. He was immediately hired as a box-maker/packer apprentice by Romain Marechal, who created a business out of manufacturing boxes and crates to pack everyday items and large wardrobes. This would later inspire Louis Vuitton in his own designs.
2. The monogram was introduced in 1896 and placed on the famous trunks. This was when the brand really started to take off (please note: 42 years after it was founded).
3. The Steamer Bag 45 will run you $5,400.00 brand new for the monogram print. The original steamer bag was created around 1901 for dirty laundry. (Yes, seriously, for dirty laundry…of really rich people, of course.) They would hang this up in a room and put their dirty laundry inside. The modern day Steamer Bag has evolved to hold one’s carry-on or overnight luggage.
4. Want to know how Louis Vuitton got his archive collection? He wrote all his customers and asked them to describe what they bought, then offered to buy it back (many allowed him to do so).
5. In 1925, André Citroën organized the Croisière Noire, an African exhibition traveling through Algeria, Mali, and the Congo by car. Citroën requested Louis Vuitton to attend and make special trunks that were suited for the climate and mode of transportation (through untravelled terrain). Vuitton created the above, a trunk that would fold out into a cot. How innovative, right?!
6. The $1440.00 Louis Vuitton Noé handbag was originally created to hold and to transport champagne. Talk about living the high life! The bag above is circa 1932 and the leather still looks fantastic!
7. When you see Elizabeth Taylor‘s original, customized, Louis Vuitton luggage at the New York City exhibit, you’ll see laminated tags that say ‘Mine!’ The owner that bought these placed these tags because they were afraid they would not receive their original items back!
8. House of Louis Vuitton kept client records for each client. The house created a record detailing special orders and customization requests. Above, you can see the special order for THE Christian Dior.
9. Louis Vuitton created customized jewelry boxes and luggage for stars, celebs, and the bourgeoise including Greta Garbo and Katharine Hepburn. Today women like Cate Blanchett, Catherine Deneuve, and Julianne Moore own custom jewelry boxes and/or luggage.
10. In 1996, House of Louis Vuitton gathered well-known and respected fashion designers like Azzedine Alaia, Helmut Lang, Vivienne Westwood, Sybilla, Romeo Gigli, and Manolo Blahnik to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the monogram canvas. The next year, the House of Louis Vuitton began their ready to wear and fashion lines, overseen by Marc Jacobs (who would hold this position for 16 years).
11. The dress that Ruth Negga wore to the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards is on display at the exhibit. She is only Black woman to be represented in the exhibit at the forefront (other than Naomi Campbell).
Beauties, I highly suggest seeing this exhibit, if you are in New York City. The exhibit is on display until January 7th, 2018 at 86 Trinity Place NY, NY 10006. The exhibit is open Monday-Saturday, 10AM-8PM. It is open on Sunday from 11AM-7PM. Tickets are free and can be reserved, here.