Top image: A photo from 1888 showing the workers of Asnieres, with Gaston Louis Vuitton sat upon the trunk bed.
Historically celebrated as a company stitched seamlessly within the world of travel, Louis Vuitton are showcasing their roots in a new exhibition at their New Bond Street maison. Voyaging and global exploration is an integral faction of house’s DNA, with Mr. Vuitton himself beginning life as a box-making apprentice under the renowned Monsieur Marechal over 150 years ago.
Delving deep into their rich archives, an exclusive collection of custom-made leather trunks and commercial luggage pieces dating back as early as 1885 will be on display, distinguished room by room through five themes; Heritage and Tradition, Pour Elle, The Library, The Gentleman’s Club, and British Summer.
The Heritage and Tradition room exhibits the plum-purple staple suitcase from which Louis Vuitton’s commercial luggage originated as well as a high trunk in the iconic brown and gold, designed to transport suits and dresses. Then there’s the Secretaire Stokowski, a custom-built trunk with fold-out table for the British orchestral conductor of the same name – epic.
Pour Elle offers Louis Vuitton clients a look at numerous jewellery boxes, vanity cases and treasure trunks, each distinct in their proportions, decorated in lavish chocolate brown detailing with beige embellishment. The room is also host to a wardrobe trunk with a palette of golds, coffee-browns and polar whites, which is designed with the freedom for its interior to be arranged in a multitude of ways, as well as the Boite Chapeaux 30 – a means of hat storage for the refined clientele of the early 1900’s.
Within The Library, you’re offered an enticing insight into the life of the Maharaja Hari Singh, of Jammu and Kashmir, with a one-off suitcase constructed for him in 1928 showcasing an assortment of his shaving balms and accessories. Featured beside it is the Malle Bibliothèque, inhabited by the twenty-nine volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The original order form from the Maharaja in 1928
The Gentleman’s Club invites spectators to view a collection of fascinating trunks, each created with a specific lifestyle in mind; the Malle Casino, in a rich crimson, is home to a range of gambling paraphernalia, whilst the 1000 Cigars Trunk was constructed using five different types of wood in the Asnieres workshop, to hold up to a thousand cigars for customers of Neiman Marcus. Alongside these feature a variety of whiskey and champagne cases in deep, mahogany browns and mustard yellows – we’ll have two please.
Louis Vuitton Malle Casino
The fifth room, British Summer, is home to a picnic trunk from 1927, built as a custom piece for the Earl of Lonsdale to carry his arms within its canary-yellow interior, and also to the Malle Fleurs. This trunk (pictured below) was conceived in 1910 by Georges and Gaston Louis Vuitton as a present for loyal clientele, and features a zinc-lining to encase a bouquet of flowers.
The Malle Fleurs trunk, created by Georges and Gaston Louis Vuitton as a thank you to customers in 1910
The Art of the Journey, 1885 – 2016 runs at Louis Vuitton New Bond St until 19th June