On the Runway

A Louis Vuitton exhibit in Paris

A portrait of Louis Vuitton; Photo courtesy of Louis Vuitton

The Vuitton family; Photo courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Some of the house’s archived luggage; Photo courtesy of Louis Vuitton

An LV luggage tower; Photo courtesy of Louis Vuitton

The Louis Vuitton logo and distinctive chocolate brown canvas are recognized worldwide as status symbols. The famed company started in Paris more than 150 years ago as a maker of fine trunks and luggage. Many of those heritage pieces plus iconic items from the company’s private collection and pieces on loan from the National Library of France will be on display at the Musee Carnavalet in Paris until February 27, 2011.

Born in 1825, Louis Vuitton was a professional trunk-maker and packer. He rose up the ranks to become the main packer for Empress Eugenie, and then started his own company specializing in luggage packing. In 1856, his House of Vuitton invented the flat trunk which was better suited to travel. Various special orders, based upon his light wood frames covered in grey waterproof coated canvas, followed and his business took off. But it wasn’t until 1997 when Marc Jacobs launched the luggage company’s first fashion collection that the label exploded globally. In addition, Jacobs passion for art brought leading edge artists, including Takashi Murakami, Stephen Sprouse, Damian Hirst and Richard Prince, in for collaborations and special orders.

The exhibit is small but worth a look for fashion lovers. Musee Carnavalet, 23 rue de Sevigne, Paris 75003.