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April 28, 2010

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Luxury travel through the ages

A young dancer strikes an elegant pose before a multimedia screen wall showcasing Paris streets at night, covered by countless gleaming "stars." Carrying a bucket bag, she takes a step forward, reaches out to the screen and suddenly all the stars tumble into her bag.

She then pours them into a vintage trunk where they explode in a shower of gold.

This live dance performance will be featured daily, from 10am to 10pm, at the World Expo 2010's France Pavilion, as part of the exhibition created by French luxury house Louis Vuitton specially for the pavilion and the 2010 Expo.

"It is a multimedia extravaganza that will give visitors an extraordinary, virtual experience of traveling," says Christopher Zanardi-Landi, president of Louis Vuitton China.

On closer examination, one sees that all the "stars" are, in fact, derived from the French fashion house's signature Monogram flowers.

The dancer, who is also the exhibition tour guide, will take visitors through a replica of the famous Art Nouveau Paris Metro entrance designed by Hector Guimard. Sound and animated images surround visitors on a poetic, futuristic - and interactive - journey involving state-of-the-art digital projections.

For example, place a hand on the digital wardrobe trunk on the screen wall and the trunk will be opened slowly to reveal how a craftswoman works on a Louis Vuitton jewelry case. The case is suddenly enlarged, taking over the whole picture and vanishing in splashes of gold.

However, before starting off on the magical trip, Zanardi-Landi suggests that visitors check out the towering retrospective exhibition of Louis Vuitton at Plaza 66 shopping mall in the center of the city.

The mall's exterior resembles the vast surface of an LV trunk with old travel stickers from exotic destinations.

The exhibition, which opens to the public today, will be held on the fourth floor of the complex until the end of October.

On display are more than 20 historic Louis Vuitton luggage pieces showcased at previous World Expositions and international fairs, dating back to the 1867 Paris World Exhibition.

They are on loan from the Louis Vuitton Museum in Asnieres. Most are traveling to China for the first time.

"Through the exhibition, people will be able to learn a bit of history and background of World Expos," Zanardi-Landi says.

The design of the exhibition is said to be inspired by children's pop-up books. A series of three-dimensional displays retraces the long history of the house's participation in major world exhibitions during the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the center of the venue is the recreated carrousel stage, on which Louis Vuitton presented its celebrated trunks and travel items at the 1900 Centenary Exhibition in the Grand Palais.

There are also reproductions of the Eiffel Tower, the New York skyline and a helicopter designed and built by Louis Vuitton's twin grandsons, Pierre and Jean, from wood and waterproof canvas, as an exhibit at the first Paris Air Show in 1909.

The highlights of the exhibition include: a copper trunk that made its debut at the 1904 St Louis World Exhibition and was designed for "the great explorers" of that time; the celebrated trunk-bed, one of which was ordered by Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, the explorer who founded Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo; and Louis Vuitton's most renowned wardrobe trunk and secretary trunk.

Date: through October 31, 10am-10pm

Venue: 4/F, Plaza 66, 1266 Nanjing Rd W.


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