VUITTON’S 100-YEAR DASH

PARIS — This year is the 100th anniversary of the Louis Vuitton monogram fabric. To celebrate the milestone, Vuitton pulled together a diverse group of designers to create pieces using the brown and gold patterned canvas, and unveiled their creations at a Saturday night gala here.
Working with the fabric were Helmut Lang, Isaac Mizrahi, Romeo Gigli, Vivienne Westwood, Azzedine Alaia, Sybilla and Manolo Blahnik.
The monogram itself was created by Louis Vuitton’s son Georges in an effort to create a hard-to-copy covering for the Vuitton trunks.
The pairing of the established 142-year-old Vuitton with these particular designers might seem odd, but the items the designers came up with combine their wit and style with Vuitton’s penchant for quality and history for creating clever carrying cases or travel pieces.
Alaia mixed the monogram with fake leopard skin for a handbag, complete with matching cosmetics pouch and small cases for neatly arranging everything that might go into a woman’s purse. “Women just throw things in their sacs; they don’t have time to organize where a lipstick should go,” said Alaia.
A see-through vinyl tote with its own monogram case came from Mizrahi. Using vinyl was a departure for Vuitton. “But if it raised eyebrows, they didn’t tell me about it,” said Mizrahi.
Gigli’s design is a shoulder bag shaped like a Turkish water pouch, and working with Vuitton led to some nostalgia. “For my high school graduation, my father gave me a trip to London and a Vuitton suitcase,” Gigli recalled.
Drawstring satin shoe compartments are a feature of the oval-shaped travel case done by Blahnik. While its oval shape recalls the days of round-topped trunks, the upright oval is a new idea for Vuitton, Blahnik pointed out. “I wanted to do something that represents the leisure and elegance of the past, with the future,” he said.
Lang, an avid record collector, concocted a hard-sided vinyl LP record carrying case for deejays, while Westwood came up with a carrying case for the fragile cage which makes the faux-cul in her derriere-enhancing skirts and dresses. Sybilla’s number is a leather and canvas backpack with a detachable umbrella. The pieces are limited editions and will be sold in a select number of Vuitton stores worldwide.
As for the party, held at the Palais de Chaillot, it featured a very French spectacle directed by Jerome Savary and complete with dancing girls, magicians and even a contortionist. In honor of Alaia’s animal print and canvas bag, Naomi Campbell appeared in a Jane outfit — as in Tarzan and Jane — with a live giraffe in tow. And Ru Paul burst out of a giant version of Mizrahi’s leather and vinyl tote singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” while surrounded by brazen bodybuilders.
The seven designers were the guests of honor, and the crowd was an eclectic mix of fashion editors, models and actors along with the top brass of Vuitton’s LVMH parent company and some of the designers, such as Christian Lacroix and Gianfranco Ferre.

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