When Louis Vuitton created a trunk in the 1850s, he introduced the flat top lid into the world of steamer trunks. They were modelled in beech, gaboon and poplar wood, specifically chosen to increase shock absorbency and stand the wear and tear of long voyages. Few decades later, the iconic Damier motif on coated canvas came about, adding another layer of protection and durability—not to mention a style signature that has since put ‘art’ and ‘travel’ in the same sentence. Several other additions have come about since then and creatives have paid their ode to the icon with their own iterations—the latest being the curved Alzer trunk, designed for Louis Vuitton autumn/winter 2022 by the late Virgil Abloh. “It is the best tribute to the Louis Vuitton spirit of innovation and creativity, and, in the end, to Virgil as well,” says Benoit-Louis Vuitton, a sixth-generation Vuitton and corporate director of art, culture and patrimony at the brand.
Last year, on 4 August, Louis Vuitton commemorated its founder’s 200th birthday with Louis 200, a philanthropic project initiated to stimulate and support creativity. “We are supporting charitable endeavours that speak to the brand’s values, and to the late Virgil Abloh as well. It is wonderful to combine and create so much positivity in one brilliant project,” explains Benoit-Louis.
In a further tribute to its founder, the maison invited 200 visionaries and friends to imagine their version of the iconic steamer trunk for an exhibition called 200 Trunks 200 Visionaries. The range of creative representations spans artists such as Jean-Michel Othoniel, Cao Fei and Jwan Yosef; brands such as Supreme and Lego; as well as BTS and Paralympic swimmer Théo Curin.
“It was so interesting to visit the exhibition again and again, and each day see and discover new aspects of every piece,” says Benoit-Louis. Living in the family home—alongside the atelier—in Asnières, he has seen the exhibition in its various stages of conception and has been a part of the unique stories linking each trunk design to the history of the brand. “All of them are wonderful as they all express and reflect something special. My top three are linked to stories that resonate personally to me.”
The exhibition started its world tour in Asnières, near Paris, and will make its first international stop in Singapore on 4 April, before travelling to Beijing, Tokyo, New York and London.
200 Trunks 200 Visionaries: The Exhibition runs from 4 to 27 April at Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza. Find out more here.