PARIS — Louis Vuitton said on Thursday it plans to go ahead with its exhibition in Russia in a new venue, after pulling down the giant trunk-shaped structure that was due to host the show on Moscow’s Red Square.
“Louis Vuitton decided to dismantle the installation which was to house the exhibition. So as not to upset any sensibilities expressed these last days, we will present this exhibition in one of the many venues which have proposed to welcome us, as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.
The suitcase inspired outrage among politicians and members of the public, who complained that it blocked the iconic view of Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Communist lawmaker Sergei Obukhov complained that it “defiled a sacred place for the Russian government,” while a presidential administration official told journalists that the Kremlin had not approved it.
Officials at Vuitton said the company obtained all the necessary authorizations to erect the temporary venue. Measuring 102 feet long and 30 feet high, it was set up to house “The Soul of Travel,” an exhibition of 30 iconic Louis Vuitton suitcases associated with Greta Garbo, Catherine Deneuve and other luminaries.
Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, said: “We have longstanding and close links with Russia. This exhibition’s aim is to further strengthen this relationship, which is important for Louis Vuitton. Naturally, this will continue to be the task of our teams in the following months.”
Russian media reports said Gorky Park and the All-Russia Exhibition Center were both being considered as alternative venues for the show. A spokesman for the All-Russia Exhibition Center on Wednesday denied that it had offered to host the pavilion.
The exhibition, originally set to run from Dec. 2 to Jan. 19, was to have been the latest among several glitzy events this year to mark the 120th anniversary of Russian retail center GUM.
“This exhibition showcases some extremely rare pieces from Louis Vuitton’s heritage collections, some of which have never been shown before. As a tribute to the longstanding relationship with Russia, historical pieces belonging to the Romanov family and great Russian artists are displayed to the public,” Vuitton said.
GUM said on Wednesday that in light of the public outcry, it had “informed the Russian representatives of Louis Vuitton of the need to immediately remove the pavilion” and cancelled a planned launch party on Friday.
Vuitton said it would donate all proceeds from the exhibit to the Naked Heart Foundation, a children’s charity created by Natalia Vodianova, as originally planned. The Russian model is expecting a child with Antoine Arnault, the son of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault.