It was a long, quiet walk from the barnyards where they had the parking lots, up the gravelled carriage way. With the rain and winds of Swedish west coast autumn, the weather felt as much Tudor as what greeted us up ahead on the pathway, Tjöloholms slott. Except now, the short bushes around the garden were decked in the prettiest of Christmas lights, casting a dancing play of gold shadows on the building’s facade.
It’s the first week of Swedish Christmas table seatings at restaurants across the country. In Gothenburg, treating yourself to a julbord is a bit like getting to open your Christmas presents a little early. Even if the point with Christmas tables in Sweden is to offer traditional Swedish fare found year round at different junctures, it is still the manner in which the food is presented, plus the Chef de cuisine’s personality that comes through with each dish presented that provides all the fun in the dining experience.
This year marked the seventh consecutive open harvest festival held at Tjolöholm Castle, along the coast just south of Gothenburg.
Tjolöholm was the last private mansion to be built in Sweden large enough to be denominated a castle. The area around the main house that has been tilled and farmed from medieval times, continues to remain prosperous as farmland today.
In Sweden nature offers an unexpected luxury – winter apples. These are apples that are not ripe enough to be picked before the the cold winter season has come and night temperatures are down to just above freezing.
Since this is a natural produce where we can’t do anything to hurry up the process of growing or ripenig, what’s to do is to just wait and see.
In this case, ripe enough for picking is not the same as ripe enough to eat. On the contrary, these apples need to be treated carefully like eggs, and to be cold stored and individually wrapped in paper. Treated in this way they can keep the entire winter and at some point in time ripen to an unrivaled sweetness and flavour.
Stepping out of the car where I was dropped off, a few steps in through the surrounding pavement and I found myself in old Telok Ayer Market. It being early in the morning, I found it rather like an empty school canteen just after the morning school bell had rung and all students had filed neatly into their classrooms. Not one table filled with anyone at all, except me.
Thanks to generous neighbours, we once again had an abundance of apples to enjoy. Of the many recipes to choose from, cinnamon flavoured apple sauce to last throughout the winter, is a given.
Then thinking about the meal just enjoyed during my recent visit to Singapore, in the hands of the Valtulina family of Ristorante Da Valentino, where Perla Valtulina of Perla’s Pastry Boutique served up a most delicious apple tart as dolci, I decided to try my own hands at making an apple cake. Not that I can ever dream of matching hers, but lacking the possibility of having her gorgeous desserts in Singapore, this will have to do when back in Sweden.
From saving Middle Ages monks from starving too much during the long period of Easter Lent, and in 1522, being prescribed as a remedy for cholera, to later being seen as disgusting to eat because they were thought to be scavenger creatures that fed particularly on human corpses, the humble crayfish has seen its ups and downs in terms of reputation:
So autonomous are the archipelago islanders that closest neighbours, living in the same summer house, agreed to visit the harbour festival each at their own time and convenience, coming back to discuss, “So, what did you think about the harbour festival? Did you like it?”
Most noticeable this year was the lack of an urgent and pushy crowd, witnessed only a few years ago at this annual hamnfest. The change in general behaviour could perhaps be attributed to several factors, though two that come across as most likely are, that the festival this year seemed catered much more to children’s summer activities with a mini-Libseberg of sorts going on, and the other being the establishing of online communities of trade that the islanders had initiated, rendering trading in goods and services between themselves an everyday affair where the harbour festival provided a bolstering physical meeting point.
“Wow, this is fantastic! What was it you said that goes into making this blueberry sauce?”
“Pieces of chess – chessmen – as how you lay them on a chessboard. It is not one ingredient or another, but a combination of factors that includes time, over two decades.”
It was blueberry cheesecake topped with a luscious, syrupy blueberry filling, softly oozing down the sides of the cake as it was placed in front of me at a café in Singapore, that had me at hello darling – what are you, and where have you been my entire life? I was fourteen. It was the first time I was having a baked cheesecake topped with blueberry filling. It looked good.
But even then I realised that I needed to take that blueberry filling home with me somehow. By ‘home’ it was meant, anywhere in the world that I was. If there were blueberries to be found, then there was this to become swiftly of them. I knew at first sight, I needed the recipe to this mouthful of creamy deep blue-purple heaven that wasn’t one bit infused with any sort of chocolate. Yes, what insight into my own culinary visions.
“It seems like the more I read, the less I understand of things and how they work.” was the exasperated comment.
He looked up from the daily broadsheet, his expression curious and silent.
“For example, if people knew about Gravesian theory, would they then choose to not intervene without first understanding the larger circumstance of society, how it worked in that context, and with that, the consequences to follow, following certain actions? Would they not know? They should know, no?”
He smiled then and nodded, “Things, go in waves. So I’m a little more optimistic than you are in that sense.”
The landscape of the Swedish west coast noticeably lacks sandy beaches. In place of sandy beaches are granite rocks, shaped by thousands of years of mostly cold winds and rains. These rocks have been around for quite awhile and have been smoothened round by the moving glacial ice sheets of the last ice age to render soft looking mounds, set against the horizon of the North sea. But appearances can be deceiving as the granite composites are anything but soft; comfortable only in as much as you can make on them yourself with brought cushions and fluffy beach towels.
For the first time in more than a decade, I stayed home during the summer, as in, remaining in Sweden during the warmest part of the year.
These evenings, we are often greeted by the monotonous rumble of high powered pleasure crafts going up and down the western archipelago, of people seeking yet another hip place to spend the night (where there seems to be as many rock festivals lined up along the Swedish west coast as you can anchor), alternatively, an absolutely silent and secluded natural harbour, where you will be lulled to sleep by the soft evening breeze to wake up to the curious pecking of some sea fowls finishing off your evening meal carelessly forgotten out in the open.
Sweden is a large and not very densely populated country. Summers are as made for long drives and long conversations following the sun to see it touch the horizon before rising again.
Where increasingly, time is considered a personal luxury, Swedish summer months seemingly uninterrupted by nights are when you can truly feel the endless stretch of time ahead of you. Today we decided that we’d go barrel hunting. And for that, we headed towards the northern west coast archipelago of Tjörn and Orust, driving across Tjörnbron.
The modern bridge replaces the original Almöbron, built in 1960. In 1980, the bulk carrier MS Star Clipper hampered by heavy fog during the night, collided with the span of Almöbron. That night, several vehicles plunged into the sea before they were able to close the bridge. The foundations of Almöbron, can still be seen sitting directly under Tjörnbron. These foundations now seem to provide the perfect angling spot and in the nearby park, an Erik Nordström’s memorial was built to acknowledge his initiative for building Almöbron.
I love marketing. And what better way to market than to chance upon these tented food stalls at Järntorget in Gothenburg during lunch hour?
Despite the overcast sky that threatened a tropical rainstorm, it was a decision to head towards Järntorget for lunch that landed this serendipitous find of a food market, courtesy of Tentazioni of London.
It was the search for that perfect xocolata calenta in Barcelona 2011 on a weekday morning that found me wandering the streets of El Raval in the neighbourhood of Ciutat Vella, also known as Barrio Xinès or Barrio Chino, close to the quarters of Barri Gòtic, that landed me tasting the most wonderful variation of the Eurasian semolina almond cake, infused with orange.
Working on the batter of this cake, I can’t help but return to the words of the protagonist in Proust’s Swann’s Way, the first of seven volumes to À la recherche du temps perdu (published between 1913-1927), on when the petite madeleine, crumb soaked in tea, touched his lips:
Summer is here and I don’t think any form of soft or coercive persuasion would keep Swedes on office grounds unless absolutely necessary. My years working in executive education also taught me that holding organisational seminars outside of office grounds could prove more productive for project work. The change of environment provides a welcome break in everyday routine that encourages the workings of the creative. It was for this reason that I found myself standing in the lobby of Quality Hotel 11 at Eriksbergshallen this morning, looking to congregate with the rest of my colleagues whose main focus is research in the European context.
I pondered the transportation mode from Gothenburg down south to Mölle.
“You could take a train, but it’s a little complicated to get there after you get off the train.” so I was warned.
Forty-five minutes by car backed with an excellent knowledge of the intricate network of roads (GPS will do too) from Helsingborg C train station is what it took to get to the once fishing village of Mölle, that today is nothing short of a Scandinavian riviera resort cum holiday-spa getaway.
The view of the harbour, is breathtaking.
Around since the Stone Age, the first mention of the place came from a Danish handwritten letter in 1491 now archived in Copenhagen, the author writing of a town named Myllæ. Since the 1500s, the town was a fishing village where in 1569, it consisted of just ten ‘fishing houses’. About a century later, the number increased to twenty-two and then in 1800s, there were sixty-six such fishing houses.
It’s been clear blue skies and intense sunshine for some days now along the west coast of Sweden.
“Ah no! It’s not supposed to be like this now. It’s too early! You know, it’s like this now, then later in the summer, you know it’s going to be miserable. It should be bad weather all the way to Midsummer, then after that, you have good weather. Now that’s a good summer!” ~ A neighbour.
Of all collaborations Marc Jacobs had done in the past decade till 2013 for Louis Vuitton with Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami , Richard Prince and Yayoi Kusama, the Murakami range remains one of my favourites in terms of the execution of precision chaos in art if there ever was such a thing.
Not particularly attracted by poparstic works per se, what draws me to the Murakami Vuitton range is the result of the unusual synergies between traditional handcrafted work grounded in rich European travel history with all its roundness of sensory experience, and the contrasting surreal ‘flatness’ of animations of a completely different era in pop culture, from Japan. If these two worlds can come together in any sense of classical physics and philosophy, then almost anything else can come to be of other areas of unlikely synergies. And the results are a certain finesse of execution in design that is not symbolically regressive Mad Max grunge that comes across in Sprouse-Vuitton collaborations or Gaudí organic progressive reminiscent that comes across in Kusama.
The first thing you’d notice about this bag is how weighty the canvas and sturdy the construct of the bag is for its satchel size, where even in GM, it was clearly meant as something more fashionable heritage narrative than a luggage carry-on.
The Trianon Sac De Nuit was created and produced in limited edition in conjunction with the celebration of Louis Vuitton’s 150th anniversary, paying tribute to Vuitton’s early days of 1854 – 1892, when Vuitton began selling light weight flat-topped trunks covered with their signature grey Trianon canvas. Prior to Vuitton’s flat-topped trunks, most trunks for travelling had rounded tops so that water would run off, the disadvantage being that they could not be stacked. It was Vuitton’s Trianon canvas, airtight flat trunks that allowed stacking with ease, for voyages.
The symbolic flower for the month of May is the Rosa Chinensis or the China Rose, which shares the same name / title to one of my paternal grandfather’s favourite songs, “Rose Rose I Love You”.
That song was first recorded in 1940 by Yao Lee and then by Frankie Laine in 1951 with the lyrics of the latter unrelated to the original.
What I found interesting in Laine’s version is that the song references a girl, possibly named Rose, as a “flower of Malaya”. This reference brought me back to the origins of Clifford Pier in Singapore, built between 1927 and 1933 and named after Sir Hugh Clifford, Governor of the Straits Settlements at the time. The pier was one of the busiest embarkation and disembarkation points in Singapore that belonged to the Straits Settlements Crown Colony during the early 1900s, from immigrants to the trading of goods. That Customs House at Collyer Quay stands in close proximity to what was once Clifford Pier today is testament to its history.
I generally dislike totes. Personally, the very purpose of carrying a bag at all is to be able to go hands-free of carrying the goods, either by slinging it over the shoulder or in rucksack fashion, carrying the goods weighted on your back square between the shoulder blades.
But there are always exceptions.
The Louis Vuitton Monogram Manhattan PM is one such exception.
In 2007 the rules of the game were changed when it came to importing and selling wine in Sweden. That year EU ruled in favour of the individual’s right to trade freely between Member States , and suddenly anyone could import their own wine without the Swedish governmental monopoly ‘Systembolaget’ having any say in what or from whom.
The Xwine company was founded almost immediately upon that. The idea is a simple one. Find unique vineyards in Italy and France, and offer their wines to friends and customers in Sweden.
Rediscovering the obvious
A few years ago we were traveling in rural China well outside of the tourist trails. Here we were invited for lunch with some locals. The omelette served was so rich and tasteful it stunned me, I had never had such a good omelette at any more urban hotel or restaurant. I realized I just needed to know the secret and asked our host, thinking there must be a secret ingredient, how this fantastic omelette had been prepared. As a reply, I got back, a blank stare. – You do like this, she said. You take two eggs and your chopsticks, and then you stir, like this … (whip, whip, whip … )
It was not before we came back out on the land outside the house that I noticed a whole bunch of free roaming hens, picking and eating whatever they found on the ground and doing what hens do. I realized that was the entire secret, happy hens, left alone living together with humans, not as an industrial production unit.
So when it comes to food production and consumption, something that fundamentally affects our lives and eco-systems, while it seems that some parts of the world have seen its third global shift, there remains a constant struggle today, to reconcile the different perspectives of how humans should and can manage their environment in an integrated, ecological manner that puts them not at the top of the food chain because that perspective is myopic and eventually self-destructive, but alongside in collaboration with all other food chains and eco-systems .
Some things in life, are unexplainably uncanny. Like my first time landing at the airport in Shanghai. As I stepped into the arrival hall, I saw two formally dressed individuals, one of whom held a name card that read, “Cheryl CAMPBELL”. Without pause, I found myself walking right up to them:
“Are you looking for me?” I asked curiously, careful not to mention my last name.
“You from Gothenburg?”
“Yes, from Gothenburg.”
“You, Cheryl Campbell?”
I hesitated a heartbeat, then answered, “Yes, that’s me, Cheryl, from Gothenburg.”
“Ah! Cheryl CAMPBELL! It’s a pleasure meeting you!”
I smiled, returned the warm greeting and said very little thereafter.
Then there were my days in Barcelona in 2011, where depending on which route I took to the IESE Business School, I would find myself every morning, walking past two different monasteries, one was a Carmelite Order, an order devoted to silence, contemplation and reflection, and the other with a heritage in the Order of Saint Clare / the Second Order of St. Francis of Assisi.
At the most superficial of coincidences of my days in Barcelona, my parents had wanted me to become a nun of the Carmelite Order. I also grew up in a convent founded by a Minim Friar, St. Francis of Paola (1416-1507), named in honour after St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226).
During these days, was that visit to Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey located on the mountain of Montserrat, about forty-eight kilometres from Barcelona, where I found the most delightful of cheeses crafted by the monks themselves.
So I couldn’t help but muse when for several years in a row at Passion för Mat, whenever I meet with Jacques and Maria Six of France Fromage who specialise in fine cheeses, they seem to place in front of me, specific types of cheeses related to my life’s travels somehow. This year, when Jacques pulled us aside to relate the story of Reblochon, fromage de dévotion, I almost stared at him in disbelief.
Every year at Passion för Mat, you’d find me loitering back and forth, around the egg stand. In the first few years, I was curious about the eggs themselves. What was so different with these eggs here? Are eggs, not eggs? What was there to explain for visitors?
I observed that, for the most part, the eggs were just eggs. It’s versatility, being just as useful in cakes as they are in batters and the myriad of ways they could be cooked just on their own, meant that the egg stand emptied out before closing hours on the last day of the fair.
But in the last few years, I’ve managed to catch snippets of conversation over the egg counter, where they were horrified to see how some visitors, in their rush to market at the fair, so carelessly tossed their newly acquired, fresh eggs into their shopping bags. “The eggs don’t fare well being treated roughly like that! Its texture and taste will alter! Be careful!”, they insisted.
Beautifully crafted jars piled in pyramid form, lit from their feet by several spotlights made for Fredrikssons annual display at Passion för Mat 2014. It was wonderful seeing their marmalade stall teeming over with visitors, each curiously sampling the sweet concoctions with hardbread or crisps, trying to decide which of the dozen offerings of flavours they liked best.
When I met with her last year , she told of how she had always dreamed of producing her own olive oil from the island of Lesvos in Greece. Personally, I couldn’t think of a more beautiful island to produce this golden liquid, a place as mystical as it is real.
As passionate as ever about making olive oil from her own garden in the Emerald Isle of the Aegean sea, this year, Lambrini Theodossiou told that she included olives from wild olive trees.
When asked how much olive oil the olives from a wild tree could produce, she beamed brightly and said, “They are so rare and so few. You know, one tree might only contain one branch and from that one branch, only a few olives are good for pressing. But they are so full of flavour, and pack so much punch to the overall taste – it’s worth the effort!”
I looked at her and smiled. I couldn’t agree more.
Ongoing, a part bantering of ideas, part negotiation, of a large block of crystallised Porcelana cocoa bean chocolate dating almost thirty years back, that after tempering, would render the silkiest textured chocolate. Not being able to overcome the initial realisation that I have been eating decades old chocolate, I finally got around to the main thread of talk at the table. The idea was how to keep a consistent standard of quality that at the same time, made the signature of your culinary work. Service was a given, they were all artists and experts in their own culinary field of choice, there could be no other way in this business otherwise. But in the ever increasing modularisation of the individual’s niche knowledge and skills, there came the question of the paraph that made it just that notch more exclusive for the customer:
“How would you propose I do that?”
“I told you, get this block of chocolate!”
And so it is, all part of this year’s Passion för Mat 2014 theme, Ärlig mat or True food. Food that leaves a lesser carbon footprint, a non-kitsch understanding of sustainable living and a redefining of what is luxury and exclusivity, without a mention of those words. It’s all very practical and all very Swedish.
When I was young my mother worked in the advertising industry. Between the ages of five till about twelve and then again at around sixteen I got to model in several Singapore print adverts that included Metro, McDonald’s and Nintendo.
In one photoshoot, several girls were lined up neatly in a row, the purpose of which was to get us to take a hop forward and land on one foot, looking excited and into the camera. Out of twenty odd takes I looked up only once, much to the exasperation of the photographer, “Why can’t you look forward? There’s nothing on the ground! Look forward! Look forward!”
Even at the age of six, I found myself curious as to why it was that I just could not look up when I jumped. I simply had to see (and thus know) where I was going! I concluded that it was due to the rules of hop-scotch, a game that I played almost everyday when growing up at the Convent that I could only look down whilst hopping. You always watched where you hopped because stepping on a line would get your turn forfeited in the game, plus, that you had to re-draw the rubbed off area of the squares in the sand once you had stepped on the lines and recess time was only that brief.
For one photo shoot a large number of fluffy small yellow chickens was brought in. Featured in the picture above is just about a third of the feathered little things. My mother brought home two little darlings from this shoot, one each for my brother and I to care for.
Selecting first class produce is the key to all good cooking. Here, we were planning a new orange and honey glazed spare ribs dish, looking at blood oranges flown in from Italy.
By December every year as the days grow shorter and shorter, it is fun to spend time in the kitchen, planning and cooking Scandinavian classics, trying to recreate inherited recipes from days long gone past. The old fashioned dishes and the manners in which they are prepared, usually involve a lot of time consuming manual work, but nonetheless worth the effort in terms of rediscovering what has been and making it current again.
Gravad lax is maybe one of the oldest dishes on the traditional Swedish Christmas table. Today it is pickled with a mixture of salt, sugar, pepper and a generous helping of freshly cut dill.
Once done, it is ideally eaten with a honey mustard sauce.
Already when we last met, the Valtulina family hinted at that they were preparing a move to a new location. It would be a great improvement they told me, since they had seriously outgrown their family living room sized premises in the Bukit Timah area. Because of this, it was with great expectation we went to take a look at the new restaurant, Valentino’s, at Turf Club Road.
Greeted in family tradition with a warm hurricane of emotions at their door, we were whisked almost immediately, into the kitchen, where Valentino stood at the heart of it all.
I had certainly missed the Valtulina Family!
Gianpiero Valtulina, setting up the private dining quarters of the restaurant. Gianpiero, or ‘Papa’, has been a guiding hand in the process of the building of the new place. His influence and finishing touches can be seen in the beautiful decorations furnishing the home and restaurant.
The private room here can seat about forty-five persons. Perfect for that larger family or corporate event.
With so much movement in the place, I couldn’t help wanting to capture all details on camera, from the rustic brick enclaves in the main dining hall to the stash of deliciously piled ripened tomatoes and garlic that sat in proximity to various cheeses all carefully stored.
It took about a half hour to orientate myself in the new expansive place, from walk-in freezers to the various bakery and kitchens, the main dining hall and the Valentino Garden outdoors that already housed a healthy citrus tree, to finally sit down and come to process the information and impression of their new restaurant.
It was about a generation ago that anyone who wanted to swim in the waters of Singapore, whether river or sea, would and could in kampong spirit and enthusiasm simply jump in. Today, a stunt like that would most certainly get some raised eyebrows, if you didn’t end up yourself being hauled in by authorities in reminder of areas cordoned off, for reasons accorded, from bathing possibilities.
In the prescriptive social fabric of Singapore that can be both helpful and hindering at the same time, an area promoted for leisurely activities that includes sun basking and swimming is the Island of Sentosa with a mission of being “the world’s favourite leisure and lifestyle resort destination”.
As a little Garden of Eden of sorts is the Singapore Botanic Gardens, that’s beautiful for an afternoon stroll. As an integrated part of the Botanic Gardens is the National Orchid Garden that houses innumerable exotic varieties of the country’s national flower.
Sitting happy in the Orchid Gardens’ collection, the largest display of tropical orchids in the world, are more than 3,000 species and hybrids with about 600 on display. Every year, more vibrant and enduring hybrids are added on.
Within the compounds of the Botanic Gardens is Burkill Hall. Built in 1866, it is a fine example of an early colonial bungalow with its trellis constructs to its ground floors, tall windows adorned with matted drawn blinds.
Burkill Hall used to be the Director’s House, and its current name commemorates the only father and son pair, Isaac and Humphrey Burkill, to hold the post of Director of Singapore Botanic Gardens.
It’s been just about two years since my last visit to Trattoria and Pizzeria Capri in Singapore. In the ever changing landscape of Singapore, it’s a relief to step into Capri again, to find friendly and familiar faces and to pick up the conversation where it was left off, with hardly a glitch.
Interior of Capri with tiles of the Amalfi Coast, home of the Iannone family.
Much of our conversation revolved as usual around the different types of Italian food by region.
For anyone coming to Singapore for the first time, or the occasional visitor who wants to check what’s up in the city, the Singapore River with its numerous landmark bridges and quays is the natural place to start.
Since the founding of Singapore in 1819, the Singapore River has been the center for much of the island’s trade and economic activities.
The area around the mouth of the Singapore River was known as the Old Harbour. This was the busiest part of the port, with most trade taking place along the south bank of the river, at Boat Quay.
As early as 1822 this area was designated to be developed as a Chinese settlement, after which the Chinese, mostly traders and labourers, settled here in large numbers. Conditions were squalid but Boat Quay flourished, rapidly exceeding in volume the trade on the north bank, where the Europeans had their offices, houses and government buildings.
Mid-19th century and onwards
From the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 the new steamships started calling at the port of Singapore. Hundreds of bumboats would fight for limited berthing space. Incoming cargo were laboriously carried from the ships anchored outside of the river mouth. Sacks of goods streamed into the road on the shoulders of coolies. Here was a brisk trade of raw material such as rubber, tin, and steel to food and manufactured goods.
Only in the 1960’s did the commercial importance of Boat Quay start to decline as the ships grew and the role of the bumboats in the shipping industry was superseded by mechanized container handling.
It is difficult to talk about Marina Bay Sands in Singapore without mentioning numbers. However, from the moment you set your eyes on this building the first time, until you enter its car park and start finding your way through its numerous shopping malls – complete with in-built waterways, fountains and sampans – the proportions of this undertaking becomes mind boggling.
Furthermost out at one end of the Sands SkyPark, on a 46 meter overhang, is the KU DÉ TA nightclub.
Marina Bay Sands’ three hotel towers are connected by a sky terrace on the roof named Sands SkyPark that among other things features an infinity swimming pool and a number of restaurants and bars. Furthermost out on the 46 meter overhang, is the KU DÉ TA nightclub. In the middle of a lush garden, with trees and plants and a public observatory deck on the cantilever, you can enjoy a stunning view of the Singapore skyline.
A few weeks ago, a new restaurant opened in an old shophouse along Club Street in a dining concept that combines fine quality ingredients with culinary heritage and tradition.
It is perhaps not surprising that Truffle Gourmet is located in the heart of the most fashionable and lively district in the midst of Singapore.
Club Street is one of Singapore’s older streets. It is situated at the edge of Chinatown just adjacent to Cross Street and Amoy Street. In these quarters during the 18- and 1900s, Chinese immigrant labourers would find letter writers and calligraphers to help them stay in touch with their loved ones back home.
Today, a long stretch of bars and restaurants offers a variety of interesting places presenting good food in stylish surroundings.
I wonder what it is with sons of carpenters. One launches an entire institution of religion and the other, saves us from bad travel experiences and gives us the gift of luxurious, resilient travel bags.
The name Louis Vuitton evokes in me, not the large conglomerate fashion house with Nicholas Ghesquière (from 2013/4, who succeeded Marc Jacobs, from 1997) as artistic director of the empire, but rather the humble beginnings of the son of a carpenter who at age 14, in 1835, packed his bags in Anchay, Jura where he was born in France, and headed for Paris – on foot. He took odd jobs along the way to pay for food and lodging, all this while, perfecting his carpentry skills and expanding his knowledge on various types of wood.
400 km further away and one year later, Louis arrived in Paris to find a flourishing haute couture culture, where lavish and elaborate dressing was all the rage. It was here that he learnt to pack such elaborate outfits to perfection. And it was his dress packing skills and not foremost his carpentry skills that attracted the attention of Empress Eugénie. He became her favourite packer.
It was not long before he combined his dress packing skills with his carpentry skills to produce the first flat, stackable trunk for transportation. These stable and solid trunks were covered with grey Trianon canvas.