Series 3: Vuitton's Cut on Quality
Louis Vuitton, known for it's pristine craftsmanship and beautifully crafted trunks and cases, recently unveiled their highly anticipated Series 3 exhibition at the Strand in London. The exhibition illustrates the brand's evolution from the humble beginnings of Louis Vuitton's trunk master past, to the first collection of Marc Jacob's ready to wear line in 1997, and finally, the influence of Nicholas Ghesquière on thistimeless brand.
On Friday, we went to see the exhibition and to hear Susie Bubble and Alexander Fury divulge how they felt about the exhibition and the brand's identity as a whole. The pair discussed the technological aspects of the exhibition and how Vuitton has remained timeless, whilst embracing millennial practises. Touching on Marc Jacobs' impact on the line when he released womenswear, Susie said he truly stamped his iconic identity on a century's worth of branding without diminishing the brand - not an easy feat. Bubble and Fury then moved onto Nicholas Ghesquière's work, and particularly on his most renowned work: the release of the Petite Malle bag on the AW14 catwalk.
Prior to this, Vuitton retained meticulous craftsmanship, but not to this extent. The Petite Malle fused the traditional trunk origins of the brand with the modern phenomenon, the clutch. Taking inspiration from the custom made trunk models, crafted especially for Albert Kahn from 1911 to 1929, Ghesquière compacted the trunk into a handheld miniature masterpiece, marked by Kahn's three signature x's. His main aim was to dig up the brand's more traditional routes. Throughout his career, Vuitton always lived by the mantra, "Give us your most precious things and we'll protect them," the reputation that the brand has lasted a century with and one Ghesquière aims to uphold.
"At one time, there were more than 200 trunk makers in Paris alone, and only Vuitton has never gone out of business. Two others have been resurrected since then, and so three exist today, but we were the only one that evolved, and changed, and stayed relevant."
Louis Vuitton has managed to evolve with the times, posing as the pinnacle of international luxury accessories and ready to wear over it's entire existence. Yet, after listening to Susie and Alexander Fury and walking through the exhibition, the one question we had whilst walking through the exhibition, was 'have they really evolved or does the exhibition lack substance?' Through the shiny plinths of display bags and video demonstrations of 'how the patterns were cut', the whole exhibition felt a bit forced. It was well curated and aesthetically pleasing, but we felt the use of technology overshadowed the beauty in the making of this brand. As we know very well, Vuitton is concerned with quality. Yet we felt that through this exhibition, there lacked a sense of authenticity or life to these highly polished displays. The whole principle of the business was, and still is, to describe a journey. Collection after collection, from Marc Jacobs to Ghesquière, the brand was designed to tell and carry customers stories; but the story began with those exquisite trunk masters in Paris. The exhibition did have a live demonstration in one section of how the bags were made, but was nearly overshadowed by the use of technology throughout the remainder of the exhibition.
When speaking on behalf of the use of technology in the exhibit, CEO Michael Burke said, "Finding a new way to approach well-worn concepts is key to regeneration, and here how the accessories room looks (think "silhouette" not add on), and what the wardrobe can do (and even say), should be a lesson to any fashion curator who thinks shelves of handbags and mannequins in dresses are going to cut it anymore." After nearly tearing up in the McQueen exhibit earlier this year, we felt that the Louis Vuitton exhibit didn't reach even half of the same standard. Whilst we felt that the exhibit made for an interesting walk through, it skimped out on the crucial hand-crafted ideals of the brand; and it's difficult to project how luxury brands will cope with the fast-paced integration of technology but still uphold their traditional timeless values. Though Series 3 was laid out well and visually pleasing, it didn't spark the emotional connection in us that Burke boasted about.