The Global MBA students were specially invited to partake in a tour of the Louis Vuitton Time Capsule at ION Orchard Singapore. A special exhibition series being held in select cities across the world. It showcases a sliver of the extensive history of one of the world’s most valuable brands. As a powerhouse in luxury management, it is no surprise that an ESSEC alumnus welcomed us and guided us through the nuances of the heritage pieces on display.
At first glance, it was easy to see the superb craftsmanship of the 19 century Louis Vuitton traveling cases on display. They were beautifully designed, ornately decorated, designed with the practical purpose of an extended overland journey in mind and reminiscent of a period when quality meant that an item was truly built to last for more than a lifetime.
Other pieces on display were created to suit particularly niche markets for their time. A folding backgammon board built for rail travel, an unpickable jewelry case created for the social travels of the rich and famous, and even a portable and luxurious tea ceremony set made for the Japanese domestic market. If Louis Vuitton’s intention was to showcase its design prowess, heritage and ability to adapt to a variety of markets with culturally specific and practical items, they have certainly managed to do so.
One piece that particularly caught my eye was an entire standing wardrobe built within the confines of a luxury travel hard sided luggage. The purpose was to free the frequent traveler (and changer) from the need to constantly pack and unpack clothes. Although more than a century old and looking like it had been on several African safari adventures, it would not be that much out of line on a cruise ship or adventure tour if put back into service today. Another interesting piece was the bed trunk, which was essentially, a lie-flat foldable bed that fits nicely into a vintage Louis Vuitton hard luggage.
The exhibition, whilst small, ended with a showcase of some of Louis Vuitton’s latest creations – one of them being a line of handbags created in collaboration with Jeff Koons, as well as other older handbags built with previous collaborators such as Marc Jacobs, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, and a skateboard with Supreme. Whilst pushing the boundaries of incorporating modern artists into their classic designs, Louis Vuitton continues to stay true to its heritage and churns out pieces of impeccable quality and durability, just like it did almost two centuries ago.