Stalking Louis Vuitton

Copenhagen, Denmark

An evening walk, summer 2017.
The shutters are already down but works by Jeff Koons in collaboration with Louis Vuitton can be seen on display at Louis Vuitton Copenhagen at Amagertorv 2, 1160 København K, Denmark.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2017

Against the muted tones of the city walls of Copenhagen, the works of Jeff Koons draw attention even after shop closing hours. Interpretation and reinterpretation. I find a lot of humour in the 51 piece collection that came out of Jeff Koons collaborating with French luxury house Louis Vuitton. Humour might not however translate as one might expect, depending upon the boundaries to be traversed. In the everyday lives of people, transcendence is pure abstract.

Still, I couldn’t help but smile at the pieces displayed at the shop window. My favourite being the (re)interpretation of Van Gogh by Koons-Louis Vuitton. Perhaps it is something about the Masters themselves that are ethereal, once with you, becomes difficult to shift in itself in your own interpretation and understanding, transcending time and other individual interpretations. The change in interpretation comes to be when you come to be.

“They touch on the metaphysical: the right here right now and its connection to the past and the future. They’re about shine, the basics of philosophy, passion, what it means to be a human, what it means to be an animal, the idea of transcendence.” – Jeff Koons, on his pieces in collaboration with Louis Vuitton (Friedman, 2017).

Amagertorv or Amager Square in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Singapore
Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Louis Vuitton, Marina Bay Sands Promenade 2016

2016. Louis Vuitton Island Maisson in focus, located at 2 Bayfront Avenue, at the Marina Bay Sands Promenade in Singapore. Beautiful architecture
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2016

A quiet and slightly grey Tuesday afternoon of 22 Nov. 2016 silhouettes the Louis Vuitton Island Maison located long the Marina Bay Sands Promenade in Singapore. Its striking asymmetric architecture of mirrored walls characteristic of the buildings of the bay area, is a unique concept for the luxury brand that opened on 13 July 2011. The nautical interiors are the keyworks of internationally acclaimed and award winning architect Peter Marino.

What I love about the promenade at the bay is that you can comfortably plunk yourself down on the wooden decks just outside the island mansion of Louis Vuitton and look out over the waters, in contemplation of the city skyline, or else, the myriad shades of Sea.

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, 1O4P0095a

2013. Not unexpectedly, a Louis Vuitton outlet is located at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Singapore. MBS which besides a large conference hotel and casino, features a long list of the world’s most famous luxury brands.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

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.

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His inventiveness, devotion to detail, quality and luxury was what assured his success. And it is this quest for perfection, of combining great design with function / durability and luxury that runs through Louis Vuitton’s latest creations today.

And thus with Louis Vuitton, came the evolution of modern travel. The “wardrobe trunk” was designed in 1875 in order to store clothing for travel, without wrinkling the clothes.

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It was the son of Louis Vuitton, Georges Vuitton who in 1890, invented a special lock with 5 pick-proof tumblers. In 1894, after two years of research and study, Georges Vuitton published an illustrated book entitled Le Voyage. His efforts won him the title of Officer in the Académìe in 1896.

Already back in the early 1900s, Louis Vuitton fakes were abound on the market. In order to distinguish his work from the counterfeits, Georges Vuitton invented the durable monogram canvas with the intertwined initials of Louis Vuitton. One way of distinguishing a modern fake is still the intertwined initials of Louis Vuitton, where the V is placed upon the L in such a manner that any mm off in either direction would tell that the product is counterfeit.

The monogram pattern today is one that reflects the heritage of the craftsmanship established in Asnières in 1860s. Georges Vuitton, together with his team of sixty highly skilled craftsman, created elegant, resistant and luxurious travel luggage that took Louis Vuitton to a global sensation. Adventurous and determined as he was, Georges Vuitton took his luggages across the Algerian and Tunisian desserts to test the durability of his creations, on horseback.

Georges’ son, Gaston Louis Vuitton, who had been involved in his father’s work from early on in life, then brought the organization to its modernity. Observing that his clients were interested in a more modern, lightweight and compact traveling bag, Gaston Louis Vuitton thus invented the Keepall bag in 1924. This bag was large enough to pack a weekend’s stay of clothes or sporting items, and it could be folded and placed at the bottom of a suitcase as an overnight bag when unused.

The Keepall.

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Photo: Louis Vuitton

Influenced by style, design and functionality, Gaston Louis Vuitton had a coating added to the monogram canvas in 1959, that gave it suppleness and durability. Until then, the monogram canvas was reserved for more rigid and formal constructs. With this additional characteristic, the Steamer bag and the Keepall bag became a success as travel bags.

The Steamer bag

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Work of Andrée Putman with the “Steamer bag” © Mazen Saggar

In 1987, Louis Vuitton and Moet-Hennessey merged to form LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton. The group today continues to own the Louis Vuitton company and brand.

In 1998, Louis Vuitton brings in Marc Jacobs, who designed the Monogram Vernis line. But Patrick Louis Vuitton, the fifth generation of the Vuitton family today, continues to design for special orders.

I swear I’m NOT stalking Louis Vuitton?

I should be ashamed of myself. I have never in my life been a rock group junkie. I’ve never even had posters of A-ha up when all my other girl friends were crazy about Morten Harket back when we were twelve years old. Morten Harket is, by the way, Norwegian – I just found out. But my obsession with Louis Vuitton is beyond.

Hong Kong, China

I have apparently been stalking Louis Vuitton on most holidays where they do have a Vuitton store. Of course I don’t have all the cash in the world to make a purchase. But from the way I see it, why waste time at a museum with dated things when you could walk right into a modern, up to date Louis Vuitton store? All things there are a work of art. Better yet, if you have the purchasing power, you could well walk away with a piece of Louis Vuitton art, signed and stamped! A perk that you can’t well get at a museum.

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Outside of a Louis Vuitton store in Hong Kong in July 2006.

Within the span of the half a minute that it took JE to re-shoot me standing in a queue to enter this Louis Vuitton store, along came about four or five other persons behind the persons behind me! Amazing! That seals it – Louis Vuitton is more than rock status!

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We visited the Hong Kong Maritime Museum at Stanley. I thought it would be the most BORING ever trip to a museum because JE wanted to look at – ships. I was all about to settle into an empty chair belonging to a museum watch who was notably missing (he must have been bored too), when JE pointed my sleepy senses towards a Louis Vuitton wardrobe trunk!

My face lit up considerably and my senses switched to high gear as I pressed my nose to the glass to read the inscription that went along with the display of this fabulous wardrobe trunk made by Louis Vuitton during the early 1900s!

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Taken in 2007, at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.

Inside of the wardrobe trunk, on a hanger, the stamp of Louis Vuitton that has now faded with time.

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You see me pointing here, at a faded picture of the couple who donated this trunk to the museum.

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As with all Louis Vuitton craftsmanship, one could see that this trunk was built in the 1900s for the couple’s cruise aboard a ship, but the travelling luggage piece looked hardly abused. It’s drawers were still functioning smoothly and entire structure was still solid. I was so awestruck by its quality and craftsmanship that it took me quite awhile to remove myself from the display.

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Paris, France

From Hong Kong, we go to Paris in early January 2007. I couldn’t resist visiting the queen bee of all the Louis Vuitton stores!

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Opened in 2005 along the Champs Elysées this store is exceptional, occupying two large floors that in my mind, diminishes the size of the Svenska Mässan in Gothenburg considerably.

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We walked in to encounter immense space, styled to sophistication with the latest Louis Vuitton products. A museum of modern art where you can touch and feel everything at your pleasure and enquire the staff on product information.

The picture below features a white multicolour Murakami canvas, the Aurelia GM. It is a large tote with space enough to place your laptop, brolli and goodies you’ve found whilst shopping. This multicolour line which comes in white and black, was launched in 2003; the result of the collaborative efforts of Marc Jacobs and Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami.

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On my way up to the second floor of the store. Spacey and very lounge!

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A peek at the second floor where they showcase their current shoe collection and clothing line.

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I left the Champs Elysées that day with a feeling of sheer satisfaction, not from buying anything at Louis Vuitton but rather the fact that I’ve actually been browsing its shelves.

When leaving the large and glamorous organization of LVMH behind and when its building with gold initials fade away and become photographs to remind me that I was once there, it is the story of Louis Vuitton, his humble beginnings, his determination to succeed and his attention to detail, quality and excellent craftsmanship that make me want to carry his bags, today.

Reference
Friedman, V. (2017). Carried away by art: Jeff Koons new line. New York Times (NYT), 13 April 2017. Internet resource at http://nyti.ms/2p0RCoC. Retrieved 5 July 2017.

Bibliography
Hata, Kyojir (2004) Louis Vuitton Japan: The Building Of Luxury. Assouline Publishing.
Pasols, Paul-Gerard (2005) Louis Vuitton: The Birth of Modern Luxury. Abrams, Harry N., Inc.

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