In the last room of Les Art Decoratifs new Louis Vuitton – Marc Jacobs: The Exhibition, there’s a wordy summation of what you’ve just seen. It says things like, “Louis’ linear and rational legacy finds its equal in Marc’s eclecticism and poetry.” But no matter how hard the curators tried to link the two designers (or one luggage maker and one designer), visitors will leave blown away by just how different they are, astonished at what Jacobs has done with the brand in so short a time.
The first floor of the museum is devoted to Louis Vuitton. A variety of original trunks are on display, from steel and wood to leather and eventually the logo-printed canvas (created by his son) that’s become so iconic. The trunks made for explorers are the most fun to see—a red and white striped bed pops out of one while drawers, bottles and brushes fill another. Since Vuitton got his start making the trunks in which designers like Charles Frederick Worth shipped their haute couture, there are a dozen or so Victorian dresses on display, as well as a charming video of Parisians walking the Tuileries at the end of the 19th century. As soon as you turn up the stairs however, you’re met with a warning that what you see in Marc’s world may be offensive to some, especially children.
At the top, there’s a very naked picture of Vivienne Westwood, and a host of other editorial images Marc chose to introduce the uninitiated to his aesthetic. Then a wall of bags, displayed like a box of chocolates, ranging from his first collection for the house—a very sporty, all white messenger bag—to spring 2012—a palm-sized clutch made entirely of egg shells. Jacobs’ clothes are grouped together thematically, rather then chronologically. His artist collaborations, including Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami, occupy one spot while dresses made of unusual skins and feathers live in a Natural History Museum-like window in which the models have animal heads. The dominatrix outfit with which Kate Moss closed Vuitton’s fall 2011 show is worn by a mannequin with a jaguar’s head, on all fours inside a gold cage.
The exhibition opens to the public today, just two days after the start studded opening, and will be up through September 16th. Click through to see more images, but should you find yourself in Paris this summer, make it a priority.
Photo: Louis Vuitton
1 of 6