The iconic exhibition retracing the journey of Louis Vuitton comes to Asia for the first time, to the very place it all began for the brand here in the east.

If you love history and fashion, then you will love this!

The Volez, Voguez, Voyagez exhibition in Tokyo, Japan is more than just a gasconade of the 162-year-old iconic brand that is Louis Vuitton. It’s a beautiful discovery of the brand’s journey since 1854, an illustrious heritage peppered with clever inventions while straddling beauty and functionality, all told beautifully in this exhibition.

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Following its successful showing at Grand Palais, Paris; the Sail, Fly, Travel exhibition journeys to the east and is temporarily housed in the very neighbourhood where Louis Vuitton opened its first store in Japan in 1978.

Thanks to the brilliant works of curator Olivier Saillard and artistic director & set designer Robert Carsen, the exhibition seamlessly retraces the journey of founder Louis Vuitton who at the age of 14 journeyed to Paris on foot in search of employment.

From a box maker and packer, Louis Vuitton founded his very own company and in no time began acquiring orders from the rich, famous and important. Every room in this show is a chronological celebration of the brand’s turning point in the history of innovation and travel.

Here are six reasons why you should visit the Volez, Voguez, Voyagez exhibition in Tokyo soon.

 Excellent innovations

1. Innovation.jpg(source)Retracing Louis Vuitton's great journey from 1854 till today, through archives of the family's founding members to those who create the brand today. (Photo: Louis Vuitton)

Drawing from his experience making and packing boxes, Louis Vuitton is blessed with a natural flair to make practical trunks and bags that are not just sturdy but light too, while tailoring them according to the different needs of his clients.

He perfected the flat trunk, a precursor to today’s luggage and the use of canvas and patterns set his creations apart while protecting it against counterfeit. When he made the first vertical wardrobe trunk in 1875, it paved the company’s success in specialising in travel bags.

Travelling bags

2. Travel.jpg(source)The rise of sea travel in the early twentieth century led to the creation of the Steamer Bag, a precursor to the modern gym bag. (Photo: Louis Vuitton)

With the advent of steam vessels, railways and automobile in the late 1800s as well as the commercial airlines in the 1900s; travelling became a way of life.

The nascent sea travel saw the appearance of the Steamer Bag, which single-handedly revolutionised the rise and rise of hand luggage. The brand’s first handbag, a flat bag in morocco leather made all the way back in 1900, was made for fashionable automobile passenger to carry gloves, stole and other small belongings.

The House of Louis Vuitton created many special orders for André Citroën’s ambitious excursions to faraway places in Africa and Asia. These orders include trunks that were matched to climate, modes of transportation and the practicality of everyday life such as tea sets, toiletries and more.

Lightweight and functional luggage accompanied aviators and passengers in the skies.

Inspirational Japan

3. Japan.jpg(source)Louis Vuitton, like Japan, juxtaposes tradition and modernity while continuously addressing the great need to remain relevant and to move with the times. 

The Inspirational Japan room is specially created for this exhibition and serves as a tribute to the long, exuberant relationship between Japan and Louis Vuitton.

The 1883 cabin trunk for Japanese dignitary Taisuke Itagaki and the mon (family crest that influenced the famed monogram) is proof of this solid relationship. Similarly, the collaboration with brilliant designers Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama or Rei Kawakubo for Comme Des Garçons further cements the bond between the two worlds.

Assets and inventory

4. Inventory.jpg(source)Starting in the 1900s, Gaston-Louis Vuitton gathered together the finest collection of trunks, chests and boxes through a questionnaire. (Photo: Louis Vuitton)

A reference catalogue that precisely inventories items and luggage from the brand was emplaced in 1906, a move that has made an exhibition of this proportion entirely possible.

Gaston-Louis Vuitton has to his name one of the finest collections of trunks and chests, acquired mostly through sending out questionnaire headlined by: “Old trunks have some characteristics signs that allow me, without seeing them, to realize, little by litte, what they are. Please answer the questions below.”

Famous clients

5. Famous clients.jpg(source)This Famous Customers room bears the memories of Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, among others. (Photo: Louis Vuitton)

One of Louis Vuitton’s earliest clients is Empress Eugénie, wife of Napolean III of France who tasked the founder with making trunks and packing it with clothes and other necessesities for her travels.

The trunks and luggages from the House accompanied many prominent travellers – André Citroën, Albert Kahn and many Indian Maharajahs – on their adventures into the far corners of the earth. 

Besides boasting a legion of following from the arts fraternity in France, Louis Vuitton’s popular clients include Ernest Hemingway, Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior, among others.

Cool interpretations

6. Cool collabo.jpg(source)A special desk trunk in monogram canvas by photographer and director Cindy Sherman (left) and a vanity case in monogram illusion leather by Kim Jones, the Artistic Director of Men's collections (right).

Also in keeping with the times, Louis Vuitton’s cool collaborations with artists Takashi Murakami, Stephen Sprouse, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama and many others have birthed many It bags, coveted by fashionistas everywhere.

The creative forces of the brand, Marc Jacobs, Kim Jones and Nicolas Ghesquière,  have all dug into the archives of Louis Vuitton at some point in their career with the House in search of inspiration. And the result is a perfect balance of the brand’s legacy of tradition and the designers’ artistic sensibilities.

For these reasons and more, the Volez, Voguez, Voyagez exhibition is a must see if you’re in Tokyo. Exhibition ends June 19. Don’t forget to download the LV Tokyo Expo App and Tokyo City Guide on the App store, free for the duration of the exhibition.

Another unmissable fashion exhibition in Tokyo, The Work of Issey Miyake that celebrates the designer's 45-year career.