NYC attracts millions of visitors from around the world each day. It’s a city well-known for museums, fashion, pop-up shops and incredible exhibits. I feel so fortunate to live in a city filled with culture and diversity; everywhere you turn you see amazing architecture, culture and pop-ups. The latest pop-up exhibit to hit downtown NYC was the incredible Louis Vuitton “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez” exhibition. If you’re anything like me, you enjoy when exhibits are informing yet interactive. Any Instagram worthy, informative and easy to understand exhibit is what I enjoy most.
The Volez, Voguez, Voyagez exhibition showcased all of the above! It was so great to learn about the history of Louis Vuitton throughout the exhibition as well as the interactive app. Learning about how the history of the iconic LV print and seeing some of the original trunks that were from the turn of a century was fascinating. The exhibition was also very nostalgic…I had a lot of “ohhhh I remember that bag” moments along the way. I also really enjoyed seeing some of the custom made trunks designed specifically for Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn (these women really knew how to travel in style)!
The “Volez Voguez Voyagez” exhibition began in Paris in 2015 at the Grand Palais but according to Michael Burke, the chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, he had always wanted to set up the exhibition at the former American Stock Exchange building in lower Manhattan. The exhibition takes you on a journey through the history of Louis Vuitton covering the 160-year history of trunks and travel items. “Volez Voguez Voyagez” retraces the adventure of the house of Louis Vuitton from 1854 to present day. The entire exhibition is an interactive journey divided into ten separate chapters, with each room taking you on a new adventure into the world of Lois Vuitton. The exhibition is extremely Instagram friendly and visitors are encouraged to download the interactive app, which allows you to virtually view secret messages throughout the exhibition (technology is really on another level). The tour opens with the most symbolic object of the House of Louis Vuitton: The house trunk as well as the history of the legend himself.
The phrase “Volez Voguez, Voyagez” translates to “sail, fly and travel.” The exhibition was essentially about how Louis Vuitton was instrumental with his designs whether it was traveling by sea, land or sky. This was a constant theme throughout the exhibition. There were rooms dedicated to exploring the history of Louis Vuitton and the way in which it was incorporated into traveling by plane, boat and train. The first room you enter was a wood room showcasing the earliest travel trunks. It was so incredible to learn about the evolution of Louis Vuitton and how the simple trunks became so complex and innovative in such a short period of time.
It all began in 1835 when Louis Vuitton left his native home in Eastern France, making his way across the country until he arrived in Paris two years later. He was immediately hired as a box maker and so began his unexpected journey and soon-to-be successful career. Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854 on rue Neuve-des-Capucines where his ergonomically designed creations began to win the favor of important people such as Empress Eugenie. His creations stood out because of their strength and lightness. Louis Vuitton eventually perfected the flat trunk, which is now considered as the beginning of modern luggage. I knew Louis Vuitton had incredible (fab) luggage but I never realized he was so (inspirational/important) in the development of travel. In order to set apart his creation and protect against counterfeits, Louis Vuitton used a specific canvass and patterns. The infamous LV we see on today’s Louis Vuitton products was actually designed by family member.
Louis Vuitton is often associated with its iconic handbags but the travel trunk is the foundation of the company. There were rooms filled with custom made trunks showcasing the versatility of the product. There was even the original order form written up by Ernest Hemmingway requesting a specific type of trunk.
It was incredible to see the versatility and quick evolution of the Louis Vuitton trunk. It began as a sturdy trunk but soon transformed to holding various items such as on-the-go dining sets to “closets” to work stations. Georges and his grandson Gaston-Louis carried on the brand after the death of Louis Vuitton in 1892. In 1896 the famous monogram canvas was created to proudly honor the founder father of the House of Louis Vuitton. This was just the beginning of the incredibly successful career of Louis Vuitton.
One of my favorite and most striking rooms of the exhibition featured a 55-foot ship mast that separated one side of the room to look like the sea and while the other side showed dry desert dunes. Each side showcased the most popular Louis Vuitton trunks that were used to travel either by sea or by land. This room also informed us about the invention of travel as a leisure activity as well as the rise of yachting. In this room you can see an original steam trunk on a yacht deck as well as one that folds out into a bed (custom ordered of course). There is also a room covered in cloud-covered wallpaper with a hanging airplane that pays homage to air travel. Some of the original Louis Vuitton luggage was featured as well as more modern pieces that are used today.
Another one of my favorite rooms was designed to feel like a luxury train car. This room included a screen window that mimics moving scenery. This part of the exhibition explained the time frame in which “traveling became a way of life” as well as showcasing how Louis Vuitton luggage was made to perfectly fit inside the compartments of the train. There are a few exclusive to NYC rooms that centered around Louis Vuitton and its importance in today’s pop culture. One of the last rooms of the exhibition featured some of the most notable Louis Vuitton gowns that have been seen recently on some of our favorite artists. The butter yellow gown designed by Nicolas Ghesquière and worn by Alicia Vikander at the Oscars in 2016 was on display as well as the sparkling minidress worn by Taylor Swift this past year to the Met Gala. There were so many iconic red carpet creations on display I can’t name all of them. I do however remember seeing the beautiful, sleep silver dress worn by Ruth Negga at the 2017 Golden Globes.
The last area of the exhibition showcases artisans working live. This is there to remind us of the incredible craftsmanship that has always been the main importance to Louis Vuitton. Whether you are a friend of fashion, art enthusiast or architectural fan, visiting “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez” is a must! This exhibition takes traveling in style to another level while emphasizing Louis Vuitton’s designs that have become synonymous with the concept of luxury.