Always innovation and sharing its vision with the world, Louis Vuitton has a long tradition of participating in World Expo. Join Louis Vuitton on this Extraordinary Voyage between tradition and innovation, from its first participation in Paris in 1867 to this year’s World Expo in Shanghai.
When Louis Vuitton takes its place within the French Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010, it will mark the continuation of a tradition stretching back almost a century and a half, for it was at the Paris World Exhibition of 1867 that Louis Vuitton first announced its arrival on the international stage.
It is this heritage that Louis Vuitton will celebrate with a major retrospective running from 28th April to 30th October 2010 at Shanghai’s landmark Plaza 66. Highlights include more than 20 historic luggage designs lent for the occasion by the Louis Vuitton Museum in Asnières. These are displayed in an eye-catching scenography inspired by children’s pop-up books. A series of giant three-dimensional displays retraces the history of Louis Vuitton’s participation in the major World Exhibitions of the 19th and 20th centuries.
1867, Paris – The Origins
Louis Vuitton initiates its tradition of participating in the World Expos.
Little more than a decade after the company’s founding, Louis Vuitton and his son, Georges, participated in the 1867 World Expo held in Paris. Displaying their invention, along with a spirit for modernism and a taste for challenge, they were awarded with a bronze medal.
The winning piece has unfortunately been lost over time, but it might have been one of the Louis Vuitton flat trunks in waterproof grey Trianon canvas with which the company made its name at this time.
Always at the forefront of innovation, these trunks responded perfectly to the new requests of travellers, in need of flat luggage pieces that fit in locomotives’ cabins and protected their belongings from the train steam. It was one of the first revolutions in transportation for which Louis Vuitton’s creative designs defined the art of travel.
1889, Paris – Gold in Paris
The Damier canvas is unveiled, at the same time as the Eiffel Tower.
For its 10th edition, the 1889 World Expo was held in Paris and celebrated the Centenary of the French Revolution. This year, the company presented its soon-to-be famous Damier canvas and future best-selling wardrobe trunk.
This World Expo not only left its mark on the landscape of Paris with the installation of the Eiffel Tower and the creation of the monumental pavilion known today as the Grand Palais, but it also marked the success of Louis Vuitton thanks to a gold medal.
In this golden age of the transatlantic liner, the ingenuity of the wardrobe trunk—with its vertical design and multiple compartments—saved travellers the bother of unpacking in their cabin. Five years later, Georges Vuitton himself made the Atlantic crossing on his way to the 1893 World Exhibition in Chicago.
At the 1900 Centenary Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Louis Vuitton’s growing success was apparent in its magnificent carousel stand, on which – alongside its famous trunks – it exhibited for the first time a series of soft and semi-soft designs in leather. Already, Georges Vuitton, who in 1894 had been an enthusiastic spectator at one of the world’s first car races between Paris and Rouen, was anticipating the age of the automobile.
1904, St. Louis
At the 1904 World Exhibition in St. Louis, Missouri, Louis Vuitton exhibited a copper trunk whose innovative design resisted water, dust and insects.
1908-1910, London – From London to Paris
Louis Vuitton anticipates the age of air transportation.
In 1908, the company participated in the Franco-British Expo held in London. The following year, at the first ever World Expo of Air Transportation, Georges Vuitton’s twin sons, Pierre and Jean, revealed a helicopter they had designed and built themselves from wood and waterproof canvas. It’s a model of this very same helicopter that will be displayed this year at the Louis Vuitton retrospective at Plaza 66 in Shanghai.
Interested in all forms of transportation, the company simultaneously participated in the Automobile Exhibition in Paris. It was then that Georges, in collaboration with the leading manufacturers of the time, revealed auto trunks in water- and dust-proof canvas.
From automobiles to airplanes, Louis Vuitton luggage has always elegantly evolved with the times.
The Exposition internationale des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes, held in Paris in 1925, consecrated the Art Deco style of design and architecture. Gaston-Louis Vuitton, representing the third generation of the Vuitton family, served as vice-president of one of the exhibition committees. Louis Vuitton’s impressive stand displayed a selection of its famous secretary trunks, as well as sumptuous leather toiletry cases furnished with accessories in crystal, silver, ivory and vermeil.
In 1931, France honoured its colonies with the Exposition Coloniale Internationale, held on a vast site in the Bois de Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris. For the first time, Louis Vuitton had its own pavilion – an indication of the company’s importance – at the centre of which stood a huge totem pole. The display included Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s extensive collection of African masks.
2010, Shanghai – Continued Dedication to World Expos
“In the friendly confrontation with the arts and the knowledges of all the countries collected in Shanghai Expo, it was normal that Louis Vuitton, counts among the partners of the Pavilion of France. It was a duty for a French company, everywhere synonymic, excellent and perfect, of tradition and passion. It is a homage to China and to it people towards which, among the first ones, we went. It will be the pleasure for all our teams, for myself, that to be an actor of Shanghai 2010.” – Bernard Arnault
Continuing its tradition of participating in the great World Exhibitions since the 19th century, Louis Vuitton will be present within the French Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010, scheduled to run from 1st May to 31st October 2010.
The theme of Shanghai Expo 2010 is “Better City, Better Life”. The French Pavilion, designed by architect Jacques Ferrier, works around the concept of “la ville sensuelle” and incorporates, among other highlights, a contemporary interpretation of the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. As the sole representative of the LVMH Group, one of the four privileged partners of the French Pavilion, Louis Vuitton as unique participating luxury brand will offer its innovative vision of ‘luxury à la française’.
Visitors enter the Louis Vuitton space – which juxtaposes seven masterpieces lent for the occasion by the Musée d’Orsay – via a replica of Hector Guimard’s famous Art Nouveau entrance for the Paris metro animated with images of fashion shows. This marks the beginning of a virtual journey through Paris via a state-of-the-art digital projection which constantly plays with perceptions of space, at times seeming to skim the surface of the Seine, at others soaring upwards with the towers of Notre Dame.
The Shanghai World Expo 2010
The city of Shanghai was nominated to host the 2010 World Expo that will last from May 1 to October 31, 2010.
Shanghai clearly stated its ambitions : it will be the biggest International Expo in the history since the first one in 1855. 15 hectares. Over 200 countries and organizations will display urban civilisation, exchange their experiences of urban development, and explore new approaches to human habitat, lifestyle and working conditions in the new century. With at least 70 millions of visitors during the 6 months of the event, there is no doubt that this Expo will be unforgettable.
The expo divides into five subthemes:
1. Blending diverse cultures of the city;
2. Economic prosperity of the city;
3. Innovation of science and technology in the city;
4. Remodelling of communities in the city;
5. Rural-urban interaction.
The role of the Expo 2010 site is to serve as a model “city of harmony”, a paragon of the harmony “between humankind and nature”, “between past and future” and “among human beings”.
Images via Louis Vuitton