For Louis Vuitton’s Birthday, 200 Artists Reimagined an Iconic Steamer Trunk

Some fascinating designs are on display

Louis Vuitton
Pedestrians wait at a traffic light near the French luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton store seen in Hong Kong.
Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Can a piece of luggage be transformative? In 1858, the steamer trunk that put Louis Vuitton on the map did exactly that. In a 2018 article at The RealReal, Noelani Piters wrote that the trunks “[were] toted worldwide as a portable treasure chest of prized possessions” and pointed out that many of them went on to have second lives as beloved pieces of furniture. Over the years, Piters pointed out, the trunks themselves have been the subject of customization from the likes of Supreme and Cindy Sherman, who took an already iconic design and honed it further.

Louis Vuitton himself was born in 1821, meaning that the company that shares his name was looking for a way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. Their method of doing that? Let 200 artists around the world reimagine the steamer trunk in their own distinct way.

In a new article at Robb Report, Shanti Escalante-De Mattei delved further into the anniversary editions. “Each collaborator was given a trunk the same size as the original measurements of 50 by 50 by 100 centimeters,” wrote Escalante-De Mattei. “From that blank canvas, the creatives could design the trunks however they wanted, and most brought in the key materials and motifs from their own practices.”

Louis Vuitton has set up a site where you can see the different trunks. It includes contributions from artist Qualeasha Wood, skateboarder Beatrice Domond and the effects company Asylum — making for a fantastic way to see how different creative teams approached the project.

If you’d like to see the trunks in person, that’s also in the cards — the article points out that some will be coming to store windows in the near future. They’ll be auctioned off in December, with the proceeds going to help art students in need.

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