Last weekend I enjoyed a few days in Paris, where I met our Professor of Fashion and Museology at LCF, Judith Clark.
I had the fortune of being invited to the opening of the gallery, located in the historic grounds of Asnieres-sur-Seine, which since 1859, have acted as home, not only to the Vuitton family, but also the workshops where the most exclusive, made-to-order items are still produced.
Unlike the monumental Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation, this gallery had a more intimate feel. We had an opportunity to be immersed in the House’s history and its inner workings, which was enthralling.
In curating the space, Judith was inspired by Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s game, the Pateki, a wooden cube puzzle designed in the 1930’s, that is almost impossible to complete.
The route through the gallery is imagined through the game, with each themed space, such as ‘Personal Initials’, ‘Beginnings’, ‘The Art of Couture’ or ‘Stories and Clients’, being built in the shape of a piece of the puzzle, which was very creative.
Louis Vuitton’s history is told through 400 objects, chosen from 165,000 documents and 26,000 pieces conserved in the Maison’s collections and archives, ranging from couturier Paul Poiret’s trunk, to items from the Vuitton family’s personal collection, including a pair of 17th-century Venetian women’s platform shoes.
We also had a chance to see examples of the work by the House’s artisans, which was very inspiring. Judith mentioned that one of the motivations for having a permanent exhibition at Asnieres, was the fact that people come to this site, the maison de famille, see the atelier, and they fall in love with the idea that this is the cradle of the company, and realise they are participating in the history of the House.
Judith and the CfFC had the challenge of revealing the intimate aspects of a House’s history, highlighting its ties with the ateliers, and underlining the presence of the Louis Vuitton in the luxury fashion world. They achieved them all beautifully, in this new creative and timeless space, so vividly imagined.