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Louis Vuitton: celebrating 200 years

The windows of Louis Vuitton’s Sloane Street boutique have been transformed as part of the brand’s series of ‘200 Louis’ window displays, paying homage to its founder’s bicentennial birthday

Katie Paterson
Multi-sensory designers Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, image courtesy of Nathan-Pask

This year, Louis Vuitton is celebrating the 200th birthday of its namesake founder by putting the maison’s iconic flat-topped trunk at the heart of a series of celebratory window displays at its boutiques around the world, including those of its Sloane Street store, as part of its Louis 200 initiative.

To mark Monsieur Vuitton’s bicentennial birthday, the brand tasked 200 diverse visionaries to put their spin on the storied brand’s past, present and future by interpreting boxes measuring 50x50x100cm, dimensions close to those of the trunks first made by Vuitton in the early days of his eponymous brand in the 1850s.

Until early November, the Sloane Street window display will feature  the spectacular creations of visionaries including multi-sensory designers Bompas & Parr, fashion designer Marc Jacobs, visual artist Katie Paterson and surrealist 3D sculptor Gokcen Yuksek, all of whom bring a whole new dimension to the conventional notion of window shopping.

“For Louis Vuitton, this year marks 200 years since the founder of the eponymous brand was born”

Born in 1821, Louis Vuitton was just 14 years old when he set off on foot from his hometown of Anchay, in the French Jura region. He arrived in Paris two years later and took up an apprenticeship with illustrious trunkmaker and packer Romain Maréchal, where he eventually found himself packing trunks for the French court in the 1850s. Empress Eugénie was one of his clients.

With those illustrious skills under his belt, Vuitton founded his own Maison in 1854 at 4 Rue Neuve des Capucine near the Place Vendôme. He developed an innovative waterproof coated canvas and reconceived trunks with flat lids, which radically transformed their functionality. His fledgling brand coincided with the Second Empire under Napoleon III, who was focused on building infrastructure, with an emphasis on the construction of railways.

Soon his elegant and practical luggage, bags and accessories became bywords for the “Art of Travel” and became the luggage of choice for the royalty, aristocracy, tycoons and millionaires who crisscrossed the continent with Vuitton trunks in tow.

“The only criteria each of the collaborators received was to think of the trunk as ‘a vessel for an object, a dream, a future, a reflection, a desire’.”

The 200 talents charged with interpreting the iconic trunks for the 200 Louis initiative include painters, skateboarders, astrologers, writers, architects, botanists, astronauts and Paralympic swimmers. These visionaries were then given carte blanche to create without limits, and in any medium. The only criteria each of the collaborators received was to think of the trunk as “a vessel for an object, a dream, a future, a reflection, a desire”.

It has been a remarkably commemorative year for the fashion world, with Chanel celebrating the 100th anniversary of its Chanel No. 5 fragrance and Gucci is marking 100 years since the brand’s inception, which coincides with the release of the much-anticipated House of Gucci  film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Lady Gaga.

Set to be released later this year, the film stars Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani, who was tried and convicted of orchestrating the assassination of her ex-husband and former head of the Gucci fashion house Maurizio Gucci, played by Adam Driver.

Louis Vuitton, 190-192 Sloane St, SW1X 9QX

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