Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibition – Part 1

The Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibition was a highlight of my Parisian trip a couple of weeks ago. Taking place in one of my favorite museums, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, it is on show until mid-September. The first level explains the creation of the Louis Vuitton house with historical detail, how the brand became a major reference in craftsmanship and luxury travel. The second level is owned by the fabulous and crazy world of designer Marc Jacobs.

The exhibition starts unexpectedly… with doll clothes! It turns out to be a clever way to give the context of the creation of the Vuitton house. Indeed, packing in the 19th century was truly nightmarish (much more than it is nowadays, believe me). Women at the time would wear layers and layers of clothes: (unsexy) lingerie, a corset, a crinoline, skirts, jackets… Not to mention gloves, hats and boots.

And don’t forget that dresses and accessories for all sorts of different occasions were needed: travelling, strolling, going to the horse races, visiting family and friends, formal dinners, balls… The doll clothes from around 1865 show the impressive quantity of items needed for a wealthy woman in her travels.

Needless to say it all took a lot of space.

So now you understand why a big, giant pile of trunks came in handy for Madame.

In 1854, Louis Vuitton, originally a poor craftsman, established his label in Paris. The world of travelling was being revolutionized by modern transportation (think steam boats and trains) and the upper-class society’s love of tourism. Louis Vuitton invented flat-bottom and lightweight trunks which soon became more fashionable than their rounded-top peers. Functional, stackable and luxurious, Louis Vuitton trunks were the luggage of choice for rich travelers.

Louis Vuitton was non too flattered when sincere attempts to imitate his designs took form. The brand had issues with counterfeiting almost from the start. In 1888, Vuitton created the Damier (checkered) canvas with “Marque Louis Vuitton deposée” (Louis Vuitton registered trademark) inscribed to distinguish itself from unlawful competitors. Then, after his death in 1892, his son created the more elaborate Monogram canvas in 1896.

The biggest trunk is for women (obviously).The smaller one is for men.

The Louis Vuitton brand never ceased to be innovative in its designs, making the travels of its customers always more comfortable. Oh, to carry a bed with you so you could snooze at will!

In my next post, we will explore the second floor, the fantastic world of Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton. In the meantime, I leave you with this charming video!

L’expo Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs au Musée des Arts Décoratifs valait presque à elle seule le voyage à Paris. Le 1er étage est dédié à la naissance de la maison Louis Vuitton, rapidement devenue référence dans la fabrication de malles de luxe. Quant à la 2ème partie, elle est consacrée au monde fou et merveilleux du créateur Marc Jacobs.

L’exposition commence par nous compter le contexte de la création de la maison Louis Vuitton. A l’époque, faire ses valises était un véritable calvaire. (Encore plus que maintenant, oui oui !) Alors que nos vêtements sont aujourd’hui relativement simples, les femmes du 19ème siècle étaient de véritables mille-feuilles. Imaginez un peu : la lingerie (beaucoup moins minimaliste que la notre), un corset, des jupons, une crinoline, des jupes, des gilets, des chapeaux, des gants… Et ne parlons pas des tenues à emporter pour toutes les occasions ! Vêtements de voyage, pour la promenade, le bal, les courses de chevaux, les visites de courtoisie… Des vêtements de poupée datant de l’époque de Louis Vuitton (vers 1865) montrent la quantité quasi-astronomique de vêtements et accessoires nécessaires au voyage d’une élégante. Vous comprenez donc pourquoi il fallait de bonnes grosses malles pour contenir le tout.

En 1854, Louis Vuitton fonda sa maison de malletier à Paris. Le monde du voyage est alors en plein essor grâce au développement des moyens de transport et au tourisme international des classes aisées. Vuitton invente une nouvelle malle plate plus facilement empilable que les traditionnels bagages à forme bombée. Confortable, pratique et luxueuse, la malle Vuitton connaitra rapidement le succès. Vuitton fut presque dès le début victime de son succès avec la contrefaçon. En 1888, la marque décide de créer un nouvel imprimé en damier avec l’inscription « Marque Louis Vuitton déposée ». De même en 1896, Vuitton lance son monogramme à motifs de fleurs.  Louis Vuitton devint rapidement une référence dans l’art du voyage, notamment pour ses innovations comme ce lit contenu dans une malle et ces malles à compartiments.

Dans mon prochain billet, nous monterons au 2ème étage pour plonger dans le monde fantastique de Marc Jacobs pour Louis Vuitton. En attendant, je vous laisse regarder cette charmante vidéo !

15 thoughts on “Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibition – Part 1

  1. Those LV trunks are the epitome of glamour. The hotel where I stayed in Paris for new year’s had an elevator made out of authentic LV wardrobe trunks of yore. Gotta love the checkered pattern.

  2. Heading soon to this expo… I had a chance to see the Louis Vuitton exhibition at the Musee Carnavalet last year, impressive history! So many gorgeous trunks and pieces of luggage. Certainly they did not travel light back in the day!

    1. I saw the exhibition at the Musée Carnavalet too. Travelling looked so much more glamourous back in the day when you see all these amazing trunks. I might post some of the pictures I took as a bonus. I had been meaning to write a post about that exhibition but never took the time.

  3. Oo lovely you are writing about your Paris trip already! I loved reading about the layers of clothing women wore in previous centuries – actually I think we forget just how recently things changed for females. What a lovely way to depict this with the doll’s clothes. As for the bed in the luggage well that’s perfect I’m off to buy one :-)

    1. I loved seeing the clothes from the 19th century too! I studied that period in college and it was so interesting to see how women were constrained and how their dressed according to certain social codes.
      As for the bed, I recall seeing a similar model in the Vuitton store on the Champs-Elysées. Now you know where you must go ;-)

  4. Après avoir lu tes deux articles sur l’expo, maintenant, il faut que j’aille la voir ! :)
    Et la Cité de la Mode vient d’ouvrir sur les quais, côté gare de Lyon, il y a deux expos en ce moment, sur Comme Des Garçons et Balenciaga, si je ne me trompe pas. A voir aussi sans aucun doute !

    1. Je crois que ça te plaira bien!
      Ah oui j’ai entendu parler de ces 2 expos; dommage qu’elles n’avaient pas lieu pendant mon séjour à Paris au début du mois. Tu penses que tu vas en parler sur ton blog?

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