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Louis Vuitton Turns 200 – Here’s How the Fashion Visionary is Being Celebrated

Louis Vuitton SS21 photographed by Anthony Arquier

French fashion designer Louis Vuitton was born on August 4, 1821, and two hundred years later, his bicentennial birthday and visionary spirit are being celebrated with Louis 200. In his honor, a series of creative initiatives across various media will feature collaborators from around the world until the end of 2021.

Louis Vuitton. Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Louis 200 traces back to the founding designer’s beginnings when he left his hometown of Anchay, in the French Jura region, at the age of 14 and arrived in Paris two years later, traveling by foot. Following an apprenticeship with trunk maker and packer Romain Maréchal, Vuitton founded his own maison in 1854 at Place Vendôme in Paris, a district concentrated with major fashion houses. Between his rapport with English couturier Charles Frederick Worth, considered by many as the father of haute couture, and being appointed the trunk maker and packer to Empress Eugénie, Vuitton developed a waterproof coated canvas and transformed the functionality of trunks with flat lids, predicting the rise in demand for luggage as a revolution in transport was underway.

Trunk by Alyssa Carson. Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

The first initiative in the series, 200 Louis, involves windows of Louis Vuitton stores displaying video loops of reimagined creations from 200 talents, such as a screen-paneled trunk floating in mid-air or a giant, robot-like figure composed of boxes that nods to the way Vuitton would stack trunks in his windows. Additionally, selected stores will also feature festive façade displays – from a Damier pattern splashed across the Fifth Avenue storefront in New York City to a larger-than-life Vuitton looking out over passersby. “Imagine having a conversation with not just one visionary, but 200,” said Faye McLeod, Louis Vuitton’s visual image director. “We have never done windows like this before. There’s an exceptional energy that emanates from them – this constant flow of creativity. People will really sense the feeling of celebration,” he added.

Louis Vuitton has also pledged to donate 10,000 euros on behalf of each visionary to one of 15 non-profit organizations. Selected for enabling the access and discovery of creativity among young people and those from disadvantaged communities, these organizations stretch across 13 countries and 5 continents.

Trunk by Jean Michel Othoniel. Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

The second initiative is a platform game, inspired by Vuitton’s journey from his hometown as a teenager. Combining advanced animation with centuries of heritage, Louis: The Game offers an action-packed adventure through six imaginary worlds, featuring the brand mascot Vivienne. Along the way, this character must collect as many monogram candles as possible, in addition to keys that access each level. Integrating blockchain technology, the game will also include 30 NFTs (non-fungible tokens), 10 of which are created by digital artist Mike Winkelmann. Each of the 200 candles unlocks a postcard that reveals an anecdote or trivia spanning Louis Vuitton collaborations, history, runway highlights and more. The game can be downloaded through the App Store and Google Play for Android from August 4 onwards.

Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Both these activations will be followed by a large-scale triptych of Vuitton painted by American figurative artist Alex Katz and a fiction novel by French writer Caroline Bongrand about the life and intentions of Vuitton, available in French and English from October onwards. Also available for viewing on Apple TV from December will be a documentary titled Looking for Louis, shedding light on the young pioneer’s story.

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