By  on May 16, 2005

DALLAS — Louis Vuitton figures its history is a good selling point in the present.

The luxury firm paid homage to its heritage here last weekend by displaying about two-dozen seminal products in an maze-like indoor garden.

Erected inside the Galleria mall in front of the Vuitton store, the maze’s 10-foot-high hedges concealed the exhibits from all but those who entered. As visitors trod the footstones of the narrow pathway, they discovered an unfinished briefcase on a table arrayed with latches and tools of the trade followed by a stack of four Vuitton steamer trunks from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The display, which was open Thursday evening through Sunday, also highlighted the company’s first soft luggage from 1969 and more recent works, such as a silk dress from Marc Jacobs’ first collection for the house in 1998, a vanity case designed by Sharon Stone in 2000 and a 2005 cherry handbag by Takashi Murakami.

Garden benches and ficus trees dotted the switchback walkway, which ended at two flat-screen TVs broadcasting Vuitton’s latest runway show.

“We want to emphasize the know-how we have established in bags, luggage and new products — shoes, ready-to-wear, watches, jewelry and, soon, sunglasses,” said Jean-Marc Gallot, chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton North America. “The maze is to explain this know-how and where we come from….It brings a little bit of mystery, and it’s a nice way to display the products that isn’t on a flat shelf.”

Created to celebrate the company’s 150th anniversary last year, the maze has been shown in four U.S. cities and may visit others, though none are scheduled.

Gallot explained that Vuitton, whose portrait was mounted at the entrance to the maze, began his career packing luggage for wealthy people. When he was 33, Vuitton decided he could make a better trunk than the all-wood standard of the day, and he went into business in 1854.

His first trunks featured a durable gray canvas exterior, and he easily sold them to clients he formerly served as a packer. He then began printing stripes and a checkerboard on the canvas, but other trunk makers began copying the patterns. So, in 1896, Vuitton’s son, Georges, developed the famous LV logo in the belief that no one would copy his father’s personal initials, Gallot said.

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