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I see LV |


I see LV

LIFE AND STYLE - Millet M. Mananquil - The Philippine Star
I see LV

When you visit a Louis Vuitton exhibit, you do not merely see fashion. You take a journey through 160 years of history. It is about heritage — the culture of a nation, its mores, its quirks, its art.

But the exhibit is also a trip towards coolness and modernity, as the LV brand is now coveted as well by a young generation embracing technology, while respecting the past.

I felt it as I entered the “See LV” in Sydney through a door that I had to find on the venue wall of seemingly pixelated squares. Guests were greeted by a kangaroo “sculpted” by artist Billie Achilleos using LV bags and accessories. Did that make guests hop towards the next sight: a screen where strokes reveal a portrait of the young Louis Vuitton? That was designed by artist Refik Anadolo using Artificial Intelligence.

Then I realized “See LV” was not just an exhibit. It was going to be an immersive, interactive experience.

The past merging with the present. That was the vibe I got as the exhibit flow was in reverse chronological order. First came the latest fashions for men and women by the late American designer Virgil Abloh and French-Belgian designer Nicolas Ghesquiere.

Abloh’s upcycled creation in silver reminded us that LV upholds sustainability principles. Ghesquiere’s embroidered dress in silk georgette was inspired by a prosperous period in French history during which the skilled craftsman Louis Vuitton started his brand in Paris in 1854. LV began by making trunks for Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie. At 33, LV opened his workshop at Rue Neuve des Capucines.

Then I saw the 1906 LV trunk with his signature colors, five-way un-pickable lock, solid beech wood and the now-iconic Monogram canvas. Remember that the trunk began in the era of horse-drawn carriages and steamboats.

Next came a huge wall of LV bags, starting from rare and now museum-worthy pieces, to the quirky collaborations with global artists.

There were several steamer bags on the wall. One in cotton, once owned by Gaston-Louis Vuitton circa 1901, was designed as a spare bag to be folded into a trunk with Gaston’s tricolor V. Over the decades, the steamer became an essential bag.

The famous Speedy bag created in the 1930s has had several incarnations. Henri Louis created a mini version for younger LV clients. Collaborations were done with American designer Stephen Sprouse, Japan’s Takashi Murakami and another American creative, Richard Prince, who made the Monogram Jokes bag in 2008 in 17 different colors, giving a blurred effect.

Tunisian designer Azzedine Alaia made the Alma Panthera bag in 1996. Fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto worked on a collaboration with LV to make cylindrical shaped bags transforming into a traditional lantern, obviously getting inspiration from Japanese culture.

A unique Nooe bag, circa 1932, was made by Gaston-Louis Vuitton upon request from a champagne producer who wanted to have unique packaging for five bottles.

Welsh former model Grace Coddington of American Vogue collaborated with Nicolas Ghesquiere in 2019 for a hat bag inspired by their legendary love of cats and dogs.

My personal favorite from that wall of bags is an LV collaboration with artist Zeng Fanzhi, who is “nourished by Chinese life and western art and more particularly European expressionism.” In 2021, Zeng embroidered one of his famous portraits of Vincent Van Gogh using 42 different colors and over 700,000 embroidery strokes for this bag. It uses Zeng’s technique of brushstrokes and paint layering. What an arty Capucines bag! (The name Capucines is a tribute to LV’s address for his first shop.)

My other favorite is the bag designed by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz in 2021 using 154 bright-colored LV icons made from recycled leather, making it an environment-responsible creation.

From Ghesquiere came his Twist bags, and his Dauphine bag presenting the Monogram in a playful way. His Papillon trunk bag saw a transition from hard to soft-sided luggage.

The classic Papillon bag, a cylindrical city bag, was designed by Henri-Louis Vuitton while strolling on Champs Elysees in 1996. It was named the Papillon (Butterfly) for its lightness.

Perhaps the vibe of the Supreme series is the one that resonates well with the younger generation. This is Kim Jones’ tribute to urban life. “The strength of the Supreme vs. the LV graphic vs. that of Pop Art feeling — it works together perfectly,” says Jones.

LV creative director Marc Jacobs’ homage to Stephen Sprouse with his famous graffiti designs in 2009 came in a skateboard and trunk.

In “See LV” were several vignettes showing how LV has become an iconic force in the art of travel, in fashion, in lifestyle, and how LV is moving towards the future. How LV designs are creative, elegant and practical. Now LV has a raincoat that transforms into a tent. It is doing not only luggage and bags, but also RTW, shoes, accessories, watches, jewelry and fragrance. It has opened its doors in the past 160 years to designers, architects and artists from all over the globe. LV embraces the world.

I see.

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Follow the author on Instagram and Facebook @milletmartinezmananquil. Email her at and

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