LCF Professor and MA Fashion Curation course leader Judith Clark, has curated Louis Vuitton’s latest exhibition in Paris. Labelled La Galerie, it is built upon objects from the house’s archive from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Based in the original Vuitton family home of Asnières-sur-Seine in the suburbs of Paris, this fundamental site that is described as the ‘cradle of the company’ is also the original 19th-century workshop, where all special commissions and trunks are still made to this day.
We recently caught up with Judith, who told us about the process of curating the exhibition, and what she hopes visitors will take away from the experience.
How did you build the exhibition space?
The space was unfinished architecturally so it was very interesting and certainly new for me to work on completing a venue, as well as filling it with objects. I worked very closely with Studio Ory on an aesthetic that felt like neither museum nor gallery – we wanted there to be a tension between what would be permanent and what would be temporary. We decided to call it La Galerie as we didn’t want the associations with permanence that a museum suggests. The space would therefore be free to house different interpretations, on the same archive.
How did you select what objects to include from the archive?
I browsed the archive first of all – I looked for repetitions and resonances between objects. I read the history of the brand to get a sense of what was important – what needed to be illustrated. This is an amazing story of a family and the passing down of skills, so you feel that some objects become really imperative – that they should be included and then things that you then simply just fall in love with.
A lot of heritage exhibitions are arranged chronologically, why did you choose not to curate it this way?
If you arrange in chronological order there’s a claim to a kind of completeness. Given the fact that the house is reflecting in so many different ways on their own past – I thought it would be a good idea to both theme the exhibition and put it on wheels – so that there’s a kind of restlessness built into the idea of the exhibition.
How do you hope visitors will experience La Galerie?
Given the success of the brand, I think that many people have a preconceived idea about what Louis Vuitton is. When you look at some of these exquisite objects you get a different sense of the development of this global brand. By way of virtue of how it’s designed (as a kind of jigsaw puzzle) you also get a sense of how incomplete temporary exhibitions are. It’s designed in a way that there’s a kind of free association between the objects that could have taken any route.
What would you like visitors to take away from the exhibition?
A confusion most of all – around a house that you feel directs your gaze so successfully in its windows. Exhibitions are an opportunity to think about so many periods at once, and when that inevitably breaks down, this confuses the story but it makes it more interesting.
The exhibition is now open to the public at weekends, with limited tickets available.