First Look: Louis Vuitton’s ‘200 Trunks, 200 Visionaries’ Exhibit Arrives in L.A.

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Louis Vuitton’s “200 Trunks, 200 Visionaries” exhibition has landed in Los Angeles, open to the public from Saturday to Sept. 6.

First unveiled in December in Asnières-sur-Seine, France, at Vuitton’s historic residence northwest of Paris, the traveling showcase then headed to Marina Bay in Singapore in April. The final stop is L.A., with the event held at 468 North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s 22,250-square-foot pop-up space set to become a Cheval Blanc hotel.

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The production arrives to mark Vuitton’s bicentennial birthday, born in 1821 (founding the luxury house in 1854), as well as a celebration of creativity. Friends of the house, brands, artists, diverse creators and thinkers across art, science and pop culture were given carte blanche, asked to reimagine the iconic Louis Vuitton trunk.

There are 200 in total (which will be auctioned at Sotheby’s at the end of the year, with all proceeds donated); among them are creations by K-pop group BTS, Supreme, Lego, The Simpsons, activist Gloria Steinem, Kim Jones with Supreme, Marc Jacobs with Stephen Sprouse, makeup artist Pat McGrath, architect Peter Marino, astrologist Susan Miller and cognitive scientist Scott Barry Kaufman.

Here’s a look at three of the visionaries working and living in L.A. who have taken their turns at updating the trunk: American drag queen Gigi Goode, artist Jwan Yosef and creative studio PlayLab. (Others based in L.A. include American artist Alex Israel, consultant Kamil Abbas and architect Frank Gehry — who, along with music curator Benji B and Robert Moy’s Brooklyn Balloon Company, has a dedicated room within the exhibit.)

Gigi Goode

Gigi Goode - Credit: Courtesy of Gigi Goode for Louis Vuitton
Gigi Goode - Credit: Courtesy of Gigi Goode for Louis Vuitton

Courtesy of Gigi Goode for Louis Vuitton

Gigi Goode reveals herself in two forms, a magician and assistant, illustrating “the masculine and the feminine often having to battle for center stage,” explained the artist and model, who appeared as a runner-up on the 12th season of the drag competition series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Inspiration: “The art college dropout in me got very excited and was like, ‘OK, so I get to actually physically do something with this. And I knew that there were other artists involved, so I wanted to take a different route and selfishly use me as part of the installation and use a lot of post-edit for it. I knew exactly what I was going to do….This project came about very much at the precipice, the very beginning stages of my transition as well. And so I felt very torn between the two in a way, which is a very artistic, deep way of putting it, but I still kind of feel that way. And I feel like that photograph lately shows where I was at mentally between genders.”

Technicality: “When you look at the photo, it seems like a very simple, straightforward thing to do. But in all reality, the box itself was not touched except for painted red. I just painted it red and then varnished it and made it nice and shiny and glossy. That’s the extent to which I use the box, and then when it came to the photo studio, we had to first place the box in the space…and then took several pictures from several angles. And when it came time for me in drag to take the pictures, it was so hard and long and arduous to try and figure out how to, because my head was hanging off a stool. We were like, ‘OK, it looks like you’re holding your head up. You have too much strain in your neck,’ so then we had to get a tripod and put it just under the base of my head so that I could rest my head there. The hair covers the tripod…the photographer Max Bronner, who is amazing, and I were sitting afterward in his apartment alone editing, and I was like, ‘Make my neck a little bit longer and do this and do that.’”

PlayLab

PlayLab - Credit: Courtesy of Playlab for Louis Vuitton
PlayLab - Credit: Courtesy of Playlab for Louis Vuitton

Courtesy of Playlab for Louis Vuitton

PlayLab, a creative studio founded by Archie Lee Coates 4th and Jeff Franklin, turned the trunk into a soapbox car and documented its mobility, honoring the travel functionality of a trunk and giving a nod to the history of driving in L.A.

Based in downtown L.A., currently a collective of nine, PlayLab has a history of collaborating with Louis Vuitton on large-scale set designs, brought on by the late Virgil Abloh.

Source: “We are ideas,” Coates said. “Ideas are the core, the currency in which we deal with. But without a proper execution, ideas, they really don’t have a home. They need to be thoughtfully executed, and with Louis, we’ve been able to do that, obviously, extremely well, and it’s been a crowning point of the studio’s growth, because it’s given us a home to think freely and make things at a pretty dramatic scale across all disciplines. It involves film and architecture, music and choreography. But of course, we had the best leader of all time, through Virgil, because he made all that possible for us and believed in us.”

Technicality: “We did a lot of research,” added Dillon Kogle, a creative at PlayLab. “We did a ton. Design thinking comes from research for us. And basically, we became Cub Scouts figuring out the components of a soapbox car. And then the mission of it changed when we decided we didn’t want it to just look like a soapbox car. It had to operate like a soapbox car, that we were going to get into the thing and ride in it down a hill….We essentially came in on a weekend with a kit of some parts from the official Soap Box Derby website. And with a handful of power tools, figured out how to turn a box into a box on wheels.”

Jwan Yosef

Jwan Yosef - Credit: Courtesy of Jwan Yosef for Louis Vuitton
Jwan Yosef - Credit: Courtesy of Jwan Yosef for Louis Vuitton

Courtesy of Jwan Yosef for Louis Vuitton

Conceptual artist Jwan Yosef, who holds a master of fine arts from Central Saint Martins in London and a bachelor of fine arts from Konstfack in Stockholm, presents “A Study for Touch,” “an examination of the material values and structures that shape an anatomy of painting as well as the psychological properties underpinning the conceptual construction of images,” according to the artist.

Inspiration: “This was summer of 2020, when we had just gone into lockdown, and initially, when I was offered this task, I wanted to play with the idea of touch and, in a way, get in contact again. So I wanted to play with the idea of these figures that are relating to the surfaces. We were given this trunk, this box in a way, and you had to think outside the box for it to also become a traveling experience. My biggest desire at the time was to get back in touch with people. And because this was also a celebration of creatives, I wanted to play with the first initial body of work you do, which in this case is a study, so I worked on much smaller format canvas papers to play with the idea of a study for much larger work. So this was also in a way a first study for a new series that I’ve been working on since.”

Technicality: “This work was also intended to be superimposed on a billboard scale and big window displays and facade displays, and what I wanted to do was also to play with the idea of the anatomy of the painting, to get a feeling of texture. So when this painting is superimposed, you get a completely different feeling with the painting itself. It’s almost like ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,’ an experience of a super large painting. With that momentum, you will get a feeling of the texture of the painting. You get a much better feeling for the brushstrokes.”

Launch Gallery: Louis Vuitton’s ‘200 Trunks, 200 Visionaries’ Exhibit Arrives in L.A.

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