left: The Trunk book cover, right: Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s personal notebooks
In March 2013, Louis Vuitton and French publisher Gallimard will release The Trunk, an anthology of short stories presented as a literary game. For over a century, the Louis Vuitton family home in Asnières has been filled with the whispering of extraordinary stories of trunks, luggage and travel. In the early 1900s, Gaston-Louis Vuitton, the third of that name to build the famous trunk-maker’s reputation, and a passionate collector, constituted fabulous archives. Forty years later, 11 French writers have been given privileged access to this treasure. They have explored old photographs, newspaper cuttings, anecdotes and outrageous examples of customer relations. Here the leading Parisian writers of our time sing in praises of trunks and their travels. These lucky time travellers are: Éliette Abécassis, Fabienne Berthaud, Marie Darrieussecq, Virginie Despentes, Nicolas d’Estienne d’Orves, Patrick Eudeline, David Foenkinos, Philippe Jaenada, Yann Moix, Véronique Ovaldé, and Bruno de Stabenrath.
Gaston-Louis Vuitton had a secret passion. He would comb the international press for articles about the object that encapsulated the fantasies of his time: the trunk. For decades these very cuttings have lain dormant in a trunk.The paper these clippings are printed on has yellowed. The ink has gone a touch dry. The period notebooks are filled with Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s recognizable handwriting, meticulously recording the names of the newspapers and the date of publication. He filed them by subject. All the lost trunks are in one place, bloodstained trunks in another. Cases involving sex, spies, princesses, grand hotels, steam trains and more, a stream of images. For this special edition, Louis Vuitton opened the trunk full of memories to the finest living French authors, whose interests vary from travel to crime, to magic or inventions. Sensitive to the old-fashioned charms of the Belle Époque and the more glamorous post-war years, along with more recent tales of society life (for a special department continues the poetic tradition of collecting articles about trunks, as well as private letters containing unusual anecdotes,and noteworthy order forms), they spirit us away on a journey through time and imagination.
One by one, these authors came to tea at the family home in Asnières before being led into the small room where Gaston-Louis Vuitton used to work. There, by the light of the same small lamp that lit the desk where these relics of the past still lie, they could immerse themselves in this world of leather and wood, yellowed paper and faded old photographs featuring Ernest Hemingway alongside Sacha Guitry and the Mona Lisa, whose now forgotten adventures made the headlines or inside pages of newspapers that have long since disappeared. These authors have brought them back to life. Each story starts out inside a trunk before developing into a full-blown literary journey though the odd one might begin with a wonderful journey and end up inside a trunk… complete with bloodstains.
Published by Les Éditions Gallimard in the “Hors série Littérature” collection, this book is available in a bookstore edition and an illustrated deluxe edition for sale exclusively in in Louis Vuitton stores and on louisvuitton.com. This limited collectors’ edition has been printed on pure thread 110g vellum paper by Darantière in Quetigny and traditionally bound in leather by Ateliers Babouot in Lagny-sur-Marne, France.
Limited Edition Specification:
By Louis Vuitton and Gallimard
Publication: March 2013
Format: 14.5 x 21cm
Pages: 356 pages
Fictional works are presented in chronological order of the events they describe
Features 40 colour documents illustrating the original source of each story.
Limited Edition is available in English, French and Japanese.
Available at Louis Vuitton stores and louisvuitton.com
Éliette Abécassis, Bruno de Stabenrath, David Foenkinos
Nicolas d’Estienne d’Orves, Fabienne Berthaud, Marie Darrieussecq
Véronique Ovaldé, Patrick Eudeline, Philippe Jaenada
Virginie Despentes, Yann Moix
Images via Louis Vuitton, Archives Louis Vuitton / Patrick Gries, Denis Rouvre