Discover Louis Vuitton at the Château de Fontainebleau
Rising 55 kilometers southeast of Paris, France’s Château de Fontainebleau, “the true home of kings” as Napoleon called it, carries one of the country’s most notable histories. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the palace has served as residence to eight centuries of French rulers, from Louis VIII to Marie-Antoinette and Napoleon I.
The royal residents have each left their unique mark on the castle. Francis I rebuilt the original medieval style palace in an Italianate Renaissance style; Henry IV commissioned the remarkable Chapel of the Trinity; and Napoleon brought an Empire design, complete with an imperial throne room.
Visitors to the palace are used to marvelling at the magnificent treasures—Renaissance masterpieces, elaborate gardens, and grand staircases. However, a surfboard casually tucked behind the Emperor’s bed or a kite soaring towards the Chapel of the Trinity’s ceiling aren’t exactly a common sight in the palace.
Enter Louis Vuitton and its latest Art de Vivre collection. Vuitton’s Objet Nomades—a travel-inspired lifestyle collection made in collaboration with international designers—takes centre stage in the historic setting, alongside games, ready-to-wear accessories, and even sporting goods.
Art de Vivre playfully juxtaposes the past and present in a series of striking, sometimes tongue-in-cheek setups. Frolicking amid the gilded woodworks, sculpted balustrades, and Gobelins tapestries are Vuitton’s iconic bag, shoes, and trunks—stacked in unexpected spaces.
A Cocoon armchair swings amid the spiral stairwell over the Saint-Louis vestibule, its openwork leather shell echoing the woodwork’s arabesque motifs. Monogram golf bags and silk scarves are scattered nonchalantly in the Francis I gallery, while a selection of travel trunks and a pair of skis are perched next to a statue, as if ready for a snowy getaway.
Outside, more trunks are set afloat in the fountain atop a couple of boats. Over a walkway, a casually tossed skateboard and boombox, as if left behind by a teenage French prince, embody a youthful urban edge.
Documented through the lens of photographer Matthieu Salvaing, the Louis Vuitton Art de Vivre exhibition invites viewers on a light-hearted journey through history and savoir-faire, proving once more that beautiful design transcends the passage of time.