Louis Vuitton is full of it in the latest luggage exhibition


A view of “Legendary Louis Vuitton Trunks the Exhibition,” currently taking place at Timewalk Myeongdong in central Seoul. [LMPE]

Borders are opening and people are packing their bags for their first trips since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While some like to travel light, for others it’s an all-you-can-eat affair. And when it comes to packing shoes, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to fit all your pairs into your suitcase.

That was until the global luxury brand Louis Vuitton created a special trunk. It was specially designed to carry the shoes of American actor Judy Garland, who dominated Hollywood in the 1960s. Although the brand no longer produces the trunk, Koreans will be able to see not only the one that once belonged to Garland, but all kinds of unique antique travel trunks, the oldest dating from the 1870s, at the Asian premiere of “Legendary Louis Vuitton Trunks the Exhibition” at Timewalk Myeongdong in central Seoul.

Stories associated with different travel trunks are woven throughout this interactive and immersive exhibition curated by Korean company LMPE and Nordic Exhibitions.

There are more than 200 handcrafted Louis Vuitton trunks as well as dozens of antique works of art on display – all of which come from a collection put together by a Swedish private collector, Magnus Malm.

According to Stefan Papagelis, CEO of Nordic Exhibitions, who was at a recent press conference for the exhibition which opened on March 18, these suitcases constitute “one of the largest private collections in the world”.

Louis Vuitton as a brand actually started with trunks. In 1854, designer Louis Vuitton established his first business in an upscale neighborhood of Paris with a sign that read, “Pack the most fragile items safely. Specialized in packaging modes.

Vuitton’s trunks, based on his master box-making skills he had honed before opening the store, were much lighter than others on the market, waterproof and even stackable. They were revolutionary at a time when there were only rounded top leather trunks available. Vuitton trunks became an instant hit among the French aristocracy.

Since then, the design of Louis Vuitton trunks has been transformed with the development of transport, marked by the emergence of locomotives, automobiles and planes.

Some of the notable trunks on display are those that once belonged to celebrities and cultural icons of the 20th century, such as novelist Ernest Hemingway’s library trunk. His travels around the world were always accompanied by a Louis Vuitton suitcase specially designed for him to store up to 80 books and a built-in typewriter. The trunk could even be converted into a portable writing desk.

On the exhibit’s opening day, May 18, some visitors couldn’t take their eyes off the casino vault that once belonged to American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. It has built-in drawers and compartments filled with cards, chips, and even felt mats that can be pulled out at any time for a game of poker or blackjack. It seems there was nothing Louis Vuitton couldn’t reuse its trunks for – a cigar trunk, a caviar trunk, a birthday cake trunk, a hat trunk, a doll trunk and a gun trunk are just a few of many.

“These trunks actually have a story and we’d love to tell people the story. It might be easy to think that a trunk is just a trunk, but it has a story behind it and that’s what you’ll see. “said Papangelis.

The exhibition runs until August 21. Tickets cost 20,000 won ($16.45).

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [yim.seunghye@joongang.co.kr]

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