Christian Borstlap: Louis Vuitton I

The Filmmaker Celebrates the Founder of the World’s Most Recognizable Luxury Label

Louis Vuitton’s beginnings in 19th century Paris are vibrantly animated in Christian Borstlap’s new short. Commissioned by NOWNESS for the Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibition that opens at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris on Friday, the film explores the brand’s legacy of innovation through Borstlap’s charming hand-drawn aesthetic. “We were challenged to showcase the heritage of Louis Vuitton as a piece of moving image but we didn’t want a history lesson,” explains Faye Mcleod, Louis Vuitton’s visual creative director. Divided over two floors, the show analyzes the groundbreaking creativity of two men working a century apart, each of whom propelled fashion forward during eras of great change. While the second floor offers a Technicolor tour of Marc Jacobs’s vision since he joined the house in 1997, the first floor examines the story of the brand synonymous with travel and the iconic trunks during Louis Vuitton’s lifetime, as well as his surprising start as a packer of ready to wear. “It was a skill knowing how to pack these enormous dresses and all the different items in ladies’ wardrobes. Some women traveled with 25 trunks,” says Mcleod. The museum’s Curator-in-Chief Pamela Golbin spoke to NOWNESS about the genesis of this unique fashion moment.

Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs were both men of their time. How is this expressed in the exhibition? 

We used the most [at-the-time] contemporary way of expressing each personality. At the entrance to Louis’s floor there’s a zoetrope, a 19th century invention that displayed moving image for the first time before film, that playfully shows the woman of that time. To open up Marc’s world there is an incredible multimedia display, like a giant Tumblr page, which shows through stills, moving image and objects, what makes up Marc’s stylistic vocabulary. 

Why is now the right moment for this show?

The idea was definitely not to do a retrospective, because Marc’s career is in full swing. Just like contemporary art museums don’t wait for an artist to pass away to exhibit their work, this is a mid-career exhibition that brings forth the incredible vocabulary that Marc has established at Louis Vuitton over 15 years.

What is Marc's ultimate contribution to the house of Louis Vuitton?
The brand was founded 143 years ago but there was no ready-to-wear line until 1997. What is so significant about Marc’s approach is that he decided not to transform Louis Vuitton and its luxury heritage. On the contrary, he brought a new facet to the brand so now there are two universes that co-exist; there is the long-standing heritage [reflected in the classic luggage line] and there is the fashion aspect that Marc has created over 15 years. These are complimentary, and this is what has made the brand so rich.

How is the antique luggage relevant to visitors today?
We wanted to communicate the experience of traveling 150 years ago and contextualize these objects so that viewers can understand why they were so important at the time. These trunks were so well considered 150 years ago that their designs have stood the test of time. When you see a trunk that opens up and turns into a bed you understand how clever and innovative it was, and how it answered a traveler's needs. Louis Vuitton was such an innovator. He was working with the newest materials at that time and the objects tell that story.

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