In 1936, Gaston-Louis Vuitton took control of the luggage making company that his grandfather had created. He was known to be a collector of stories from newspapers and the like, that incorporated the trunk, which he kept in a Louis Vuitton trunk. Earlier this year, Louis Vuitton, with French publisher Gallimard, released an anthology of short stories written by 11 French writers, drawing from Gaston-Louis’ collections.
The letter to the authors says it all:
For over a century, the Vuitton family home in Asnières has been filled with the whispering of extraordinary stories of trunks, bags and travel. Gaston-Louis Vuitton, the third of that name to build the trunkmaker’s reputation, and a passionate collector, assembled fabulous archives of newspaper cuttings, anecdotes, outrageous examples of customer relations and much more. We have selected eleven emblematic subjects that we are now submitting to eleven talented writers, of whom you are one. Your task – if you accept it, that is – will be to revive these recent or more remote past events through your personal inspiration. You will be able to count on our full support. You need a rare work or piece of information, to visit the secret archives in Asnières or to make a trip somewhere? We will provide you with the same means Gaston himself had at his disposal – means worthy of an artist. Because Gaston Vuitton read, cut and pasted newspaper articles like a writer. He was inspired and creative, as can be seen from his self-portrait, which we couldn’t resist slipping into your envelope. We expect you to bring to life a mind noted for its wit, poetry, surrealism and tragedy. You are free to tell your own story by staying as close to the facts as you like or by allowing your imagination to roam. You are master of your text.
As a writer, this for me would be the dream commission. The stories are exquisite, entertaining, intriguing and wonderfully written including stories around Mona Lisa, Harry Houdini, Savorgnan de Brazza (the who Brazzaville was named after) and the plans for the Louvre.
The images taken of each writer have such character and reflect, in a way, the stories they wrote. The book is a great read and definitely glad I’ve been able to add to my bookshelf (yeah, I still have a couple of those).