The ground floor of the exhibition - in a refined setting with dark grey panelled walls - is devoted to Louis Vuitton and the birth of his luxury label in the second half of the 19th century. A doll and her trousseau illustrate, in miniature, the sheer volume of kit and kaboodle a lady of standing required at that time, and consequently why the role of a smart and practical trunk was so important - the snappy little carry-on of today would just not have been up to the job of transporting all those underskirts, overcoats, dresses, hats and gloves. Also on display are the first trunks that the well-suited clientele would have bought from Vuitton's first Paris store, showing the genesis of the famous chequerboard pattern and the LV monogram.
The exhibition continues on the first floor with a change of atmosphere - here, to a backdrop of sleek black lacquered walls and a soundtrack of a throbbing bass line, we meet Marc Jacobs, who has been at the helm of Louis Vuitton since 1997. We see an bold and contemporary world created by the American designer and his collaborations with contemporary artists Takashi Murakami, Stephen Sprouse and Richard Prince. As well as a wall of handbags, we see Jacobs' catwalk creations over the years - including the skimpy outfit that Kate Moss recently wore down the runway whilst controversially smoking a cigarette. Here the mannequin wearing the fetish-influenced hotpant look is in the guise of a panther in a cage, complete with a panther-head and with a brass plaque in the distinctive house type-face labelling the exhibit as "Kage Moss" - playfulness and provocation being ongoing themes under Marc Jacobs' reign at Louis Vuitton.
The two-floor presentation of the exhibition shows the two distinct parallel worlds that the Louis Vuitton brand has known under the artistic direction of its founder and its current designer. We see the refined luxury of the 19th century in the birth of the brand as industrialisation bloomed, and the bold and loud continuation of the brand in today's globalised world.
Louis Vuitton - Marc Jacobs at Musée des Arts Décoratifs
107 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Open Tues-Sun, 11am - 6pm (until 9pm Thurs)
Until 16th September 2012