From Louis Vuitton to Marc Jacobs: The Evolution of a Legendary Label

Nurses parade at the Spring/Summer 2008 show with 12 bags from the monogram canvas line created by Richard Prince
(© Louis Vuitton/Chris Moore)

Over the span of 150 years, two men with a shared ambition turned one French fashion company into a global luxury behemoth. Paris’s Les Arts Décoratifs pays homage to the pair — Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs — with an exhibition that journeys through Vuitton’s founding of the company to Jacobs’s current run as creative director.

Titled “Marc Jacobs — Louis Vuitton,” the show, which runs March 9-September 16, begins with a floor dedicated to Louis Vuitton and its humble beginnings in 1854, when Vuitton founded the company to provide trunks to genteel ladies making long journeys. A zoetrope — an open cylinder that animates a sequence of drawings on its interior as it spins — shows 19th-century dresses floating out of trunks, which were Vuitton’s signature item. Doll clothes and dresses with enormous petticoats underneath depict the fashion of the time. An 1896 trunk with the first iconic Louis Vuitton monogram – created by Vuitton’s son to honor his late father — is on display, as are a foldout cot that comes from a trunk and old catalogues.

Venture upstairs and travel a century-and-a-half forward in time to see how New Yorker Marc Jacobs brought stylish ready-to-wear collections to the luxury leather goods company after he came on board as creative director in 1997. Handbags serve as sweets in a chocolate box display while a rotating wheel of legs shows off shoes. Jacobs’s many artist collaborations, including pieces with Takashi Murakami’s smiling flowers and Stephen Sprouse’s gritty graffiti, are on display. Rounding out the show is a group of Richard Prince-inspired nurse ensembles on mannequins with red siren-light heads, along with the artist’s Louis Vuitton-collaboration handbags.

Want to see the exhibition but don’t have plans to travel to Paris in the next few months? Rizzoli is publishing an accompanying coffee table book, due out next month.

Click on the slide show to see highlights from “Marc Jacobs – Louis Vuitton,” on display at Paris’s Les Arts Décoratifs March 9-September 16.