Louis Vuitton brings 200 limited-edition trunks, including one designed by BTS, to Singapore show

The travelling presentation arrived here on April 4 and runs till April 27. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON

SINGAPORE - The next time you pass by the Marina Bay Sands event plaza, do not be startled by the massive silver building that has seemingly materialised there overnight.

Inside are 200 limited-edition Louis Vuitton trunks, on show as part of the French maison's 200 Trunks, 200 Visionaries: The Exhibition.

The travelling presentation, which arrived here on April 4 and runs till April 27, is one of many celebrations to commemorate founder Louis Vuitton's bicentennial birthday - the French designer was born on Aug 4, 1821.

Singapore is the show's first international stop after its debut in Asnieres, France, at the Louis Vuitton Family House. It is open to the public and admission is free.

The maison invited 200 global talents and friends of the house - from industries spanning arts and culture, the sciences, sports and more - to personalise the trunks.

Each was given a metaphorical blank canvas measuring 50cm by 50cm by 100cm, approximately the dimensions of the original trunk Vuitton conceived in the 1850s, to engage in free play.

An inspiring collision of fashion and art, the immersive experience begins in a room panelled in LED screens.

Visitors then move into The Warehouse, where trunks upon trunks are stacked on shipping crates. Some are hand-carved, layered in fabrics or painted and printed on. A handful are panelled with screens to play endless loops of videos, including one from animated series The Simpsons (1989 to present).

In the next room, titled Dreamscape, are more imaginative interpretations.

For instance, Scottish-Swedish designer Nick Ross burned his wooden crate and turned it into resin, which he then sculpted into a lamp to signify a beacon of hope.

The experience finishes with two dedicated rooms.

The trunk designed by the K-pop group gets its own room, with walls for fans and visitors to doodle on. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON

The first is a homage to BTS. The trunk designed by the K-pop group gets its own room, with walls for fans and visitors to doodle on.

Wrapping things up is a soundproofed room where visitors can enjoy the full experience from music curator and record producer Benji B's trunk, which has been turned into a functioning, vintage jukebox that plays 200 songs spanning genres and decades.

Spot a trunk that catches your fancy? All 200 of them will be put up for auction in December at Sotheby's after the exhibition's final stop in London, with proceeds going towards a fund to support entry into creative studies and endeavours for those with financial hurdles.

Singapore is the show's first international stop after its debut in Asnieres, France, at the Louis Vuitton Family House. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON

Besides BTS, many famous names have been roped in to grace this exhibition - including Hong Kong-based, Taiwanese actress Karena Lam, Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry and English fashion designer Kim Jones, who led the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and streetwear brand Supreme during his tenure as the men's artistic director at the fashion house.

Yet, some of the most intriguing interpretations are by lesser-known artists and personalities. Here are six not to miss.

Susan Miller

Louis Vuitton trunk designed by Susan Miller. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON

It may look like a simple box painted with the Milky Way, but peer inside and you will find a miniature solar system - arranged to mimic Louis Vuitton's birth chart.

The planetary presentation was conceived by American author, magazine columnist and astrologer Susan Miller, who founded website Astrology Zone. The arrangement shows the alignment of the stars when Vuitton was born. For instance, his Sun was in the sign of Leo.

According to Ms Miller, who is known for her personalised horoscopes, the designer "had a brilliant chart which showed enormous creativity, a quest for excellence in quality and detail". His placements also "revealed a kind and philanthropic nature" and traits that made him an ambitious entrepreneur.

Even if you do not believe in astrology, it is a fun attempt at understanding the Frenchman's personality.

Theo Curin

Louis Vuitton trunk designed by Theo Curin. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON

French Paralympian Theo Curin presents a truly inspiring trunk with a personal story about his swimming journey.

Despite his fear of water, he took his first swimming lesson when he was 11 - five years after having all four limbs amputated at the age of six following meningitis. He gained recognition as a rising star in the para-swimming scene and, at age 16, became the youngest French athlete from any sport to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games.

His take on the trunk is a visual metaphor of his hopes and dreams, and overcoming adversity. He says: "I started in indoor swimming pools and soon became a Paralympic champion. Today, I'd like to bring my swimming to natural waters.

"My trunk represents water going from an indoor pool to open water, showing the transition from clear calm water to the natural waves, incorporating a range of blue shades and reflections."

Ben Ditto

Louis Vuitton trunk designed by Ben Ditto. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON

Nothing like a cholera-infested trunk to pull you back into the reality of the ongoing pandemic.

Creative director Ben Ditto, who specialises in utopian concepts across multiple mediums, decided to revisit a previous pandemic in his interpretation - cholera, which plagued 19th-century Paris during Vuitton's youth.

Ditto worked with scientists to source bacteria from the Vibrio cholera genus and insert genes into their DNA to achieve a glowing colour.

He then coated the trunk in horse blood agar, a bacterial nutrient that keeps the bacteria alive, and painted the LV pattern onto it using a suspension of the glowing bacteria. He denatured the bacteria and encased the trunk in a vacuum-sealed package for the finishing touch - so the "infectious waste" sticker on it is completely warranted.

Ditto says: "The piece is a statement on the influence of infectious disease on culture, representing the possibility that biotechnology can transform a contagion into an aesthetic medium or a tool for future therapeutics."

Jean-Michel Othoniel

Louis Vuitton trunk designed by Jean-Michel Othoniel. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON

All that glitters is not gold for the French visual artist's Trunk Of Hope, which was inspired by a trip to India. The vessel is made with glass bricks blown in the region of India's Taj Mahal. They were inspired by the clay bricks found stacked along the road in India.

"Those amber stacks wait to be turned into homes. They are the dream that everyone has: to build your own house one day. This trunk is like a crystal shell that you can carry with you. I hope that, through this project, I will be able to help people in India realise their dream."

Valentin Herfray

Louis Vuitton trunk designed by Valentin Herfray. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON

Instead of a trunk-shaped object, Paris-based artist Valentin Herfray presents a 3D-scanned sculpture of model and artist Sophie Koella fitting herself, along with her cat, within a Louis Vuitton trunk. Koella is even depicted wearing the maison's Pillow Comfort Ankle Boots.


Louis Vuitton trunk designed by Dynamo. PHOTO: COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON

It is hard to miss this piece from British magician Steven Frayne, better known as Dynamo. One of his signature acts over the years was to stun onlookers by sealing objects such as an iPhone in a glass bottle and walking away.

Now, the trunk gets the same magic treatment.

He says: "When the Louis Vuitton team sent me the trunk, I knew exactly what to do. Working alongside its creative team, we achieved the impossible by putting the trunk inside a glass bottle."

200 Trunks, 200 Visionaries: The Exhibition

Where: Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza, 10 Bayfront Avenue
When: Till April 27, from 10am to 10pm
Admission: Free (register at this website)

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