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Des éventails de Louis Vuitton
      Some Louis Vuitton fans

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The whole world is now acquainted with the Louis Vuitton brand, which after an autonomous existence of more than a century was at first linked with the Champagnes Moët and Chandon under the acronym LVMC and then, twenty years ago, joined the remains of the Boussac empire (Christian Dior, Bon Marché etc.) in the group founded by one of the condottiere of our time, Bernard Arnault.

The saga of the Louis Vuitton house has often been recounted. Louis Vuitton was born in 1821, in a village 400 kilometers far from Paris. He worked with his father, miller and carpenter. In 1837, he went on foot to Paris, and engaged as an apprentice by a "box-maker, packer and luggage-maker", a professional who dealt with the luggage of rich travelers. He learned to make trunks and even worked for Empress Eugenie. In 1854 he created his company (shop at 4 rue Neuve des Capucines in Paris, with the addition of a workshop in Asnières, where is now a small museum, the Galerie Louis Vuitton). He based his success on the creation of flat trunks, which the development of the railway allowed, while trunks placed above horse-drawn carriages were curved to facilitate the flow of rainwater. The company growed thanks to the help of Louis'son, Georges. The Parisian boutique moved to 1, rue Scribe. Georges advocated an international development. That's why a branch opened in London in 1885, first in Oxford Street and later (in 1889) on the Strand.

But where are the fans in this story? They are in the hands of the customer women ... and therefore in the trunks created by Louis Vuitton. Indeed, from 1856, if we believe Yann Kerlau (Les dynasties du luxe, edi8, 2016): "The new Vuitton trunks, in a beautiful Trianon gray, are delivered to the Tuileries. For the first time, lockers for the gloves and fans have been fitted in the lateral parts, an ingenious process which excites the Empress". This particularity will remain for decades. There is no doubt that the workshop of Asnières still responsible for special orders can (for a significant cost!)  make trunks with compartments for your precious fans.

But it is later that the"Louis Vuitton" fans did appear. On December 21, 2016, the Coutau-Bégarie auction house study sold (Paris, Hôtel Drouot) a fan thus described, under lot 316:
Louis Vuitton malletier. circa 1880. Folded fan, double paper leaf paper printed on the verso with a scène galante in eighteenth century style. On the recto, an elegant woman sits among her trunks emblazoned with the famous LV logo. On the left, a view of the building hosting Louis Vuitton's shop "Trunks ans bags 149 New Bond Street" in London, and on the right a view of the Parisian building, 1 rue Scribe.
Fan E. Ganné. Wooden sticks, varnished guards. Stamped and silvered guard.  H.t. 24.8 cm / hr. 16 cm.

This description, for the rest perfect, is however wrong with regard to the dating of the fan. Indeed, if Georges Vuitton wished very early to settle in this location, his father was reluctant. And when the death of his father in 1892 gave Georges a free hand, it was the owner (perhaps the Duke of Westmister, owner of a good part of the neighborhood?) who refused, finding that the tenant was not classy enough... Finally the lease was signed in 1900 (see Yann Kerlau, op. cit.). This fan can not be earlier.

These fans, although not very common, are not particularly rare, and can occasionally be found on sale at specialist dealers or in auctions. Let's give some examples:
- Christie’s Sale 6701 Fans 13 December 1994, London, South Kensington Lot 18 Louis Vuitton a lithographic advertising fan in brown published by J. Ganne, overstamped The Cunard Steam Ship Company Limited, the verso with a chromolithograph of couples fishing, with wooden sticks - 9in. (24cm.), circa 1900 (slight tear to leaf) See illustration Estimate GBP 150 - GBP 300 (USD 234 - USD 468) Price realised GBP 187 USD 292
- Christies Sale 9425, 2 July 2002, London, South Kensington FINE NEEDLEWORK, COSTUME, TEXTILES AND FANS Lot 385 An Art Nouveau Louis Vuitton advertising fan, the paper leaf printed... estimate £300 - £500 ($458 - $764) price realized £494 ($754)
- O'Gallerie (Portland, Oregon, Canada), 30/04/2007 Lot 0407-0171: LOUIS VUITTON ADVERTISING FAN IN DISPLAY CASE, French, early 20th century. The paper hand fan has images printed on both sides: one advertising Louis Vuitton luggage in brown print, the opposite side with illustrated song printed in colors. Case dimensions: 15.5"H x 23.5"L x 1.75"W. $650 internet bidder live auction
- eBay, 28/06/2010, "rare antique
LOUIS VUITTON advertising fan  Wood for the handle and paper, recto orned by a richly dressed woman sitting on Vuitton trunks, storefronts of two Vuitton stores in Paris and London and on the verso of the fan lyrics and illustrations of a song called LA BERGÈRE. Two tears to glue down left (see photo 2), otherwise nice condition. (sold 352,00 €).
- a fan with the song "La Bergère" was again auctioned on March 1, 2011 in Toulouse (Primardéco) but we do not know if it sold and at what price.
It should be noted that for all these fans, the main leaf, which we call "obverse" or "front", or "recto" is the one without advertising. How do we identify it? Thanks to the guard which is decorated on this side, while it remains void on the back! Thanks also to the changing scenery:
fishing couples, "scène galante", printed song (in the three cases mentioned above, it is "the Shepherdess"). Obviously, the ladies of the day, unlike today, did not want to become advertising media, and the merchant was trying to ensure that all customers do not leave the shop with the same gift, hence these variations.

One of these rectos is also of better quality (in our opinion) and testifies well to the time of manufacture. It belongs to a fan of the
Hélene Alexander collection (The Fan Museum, London), described as follows:
"Folding fan advertising Louis Vuitton c.1900 France - Measurements Length: 25cm Depth of leaf: 14.9cm - The Fan Museum Trust -The Fan Museum, HA Collection LDFAN2015.5 Copyright Licence  All rights reserved". It may  be seen here. 
The attractive recto of this fan shows a young woman breathing a poppy, looking very "Art Nouveau". But its verso seems to be identical to those of the various fans listed above.

After this introduction, we will study more carefully a fan of this series which is in our collection. As people probably did in the shops of the rue Scribe or of New Bond Street, we will start by looking at the recto... leaving for the future what certainly interests more  the 21st century amateurs, that is to say the advertising for Louis Vuitton. As we can see, this is Roi Dagobert's amusing well-known song "who put on his panties inside out". The picture illustrates the third verse: "The good king Dagobert / Was hunting in the plains of Antwerp / The great Saint Eloi / Said to him" O my king! Your Majesty / Is very out of breath "/ That's right, said the king, / A rabbit ran after me".

Roi Dagobert CPHB 2013 © P.H. Biger
Even if adults can have fun singing such a song (including a bawdy version we shall not give here), it was in 1900 (as nowadays) a children's song. When it was created around 1790, it was "probably like a mockery of Louis XVI, perhaps as a result of his forced installation in Paris" (Claude Duneton, Histoire de la Chanson Française, Le Seuil, 1998, Volume 2, p.116-118. The tune (clé du Caveau No. 209) is older: it was a hunting tune, the Big Deer Marching Band. Perhaps this song is to be found, like that of Malbrouk, on fans of the revolutionary period? These sheet music fans are of great interest. It is rightly that our friend Jean Bisson has, in early 2019, invited the Cercle de l'Eventail (Paris), to hear these tunes while admiring the dedicated fans. But here, this is the verso the fan that attracts the attention of the contemporary amateur.

This verso, already described above, has three separate cartouches and texts. The central cartouche shows a woman in a traveling suit sitting on a trunk and in front of a set of trunks and bags marked L.V. London. On the left, the shop of 149 New Bond Street in London "opposite Conduct Street". The word "Telephone" appears, but without a number. On the right, the Paris shop, 1 rue Scribe, with telephone number (239-48). These cartouches are surrounded by  pleasant Art Nouveau floral motifs. At the bottom, below the two images of the stores, are the texts: "Louis Vuitton Trunks and Bags" and "Louis Vuitton Articles de Voyage". Bottom right, there is also the inscription "J. Ganné, Eventails, Paris".  This one was a well-known fan maker who had taken over from Rabiet (of whom we are studying a fan in our
Monstre et Magicien page).

Louis Vuitton CPHB 2013 © P.H. Biger

What else can be said about this fan? We must first examine the central scene.
affiche 2

It immediately appears in connection with the English shop, evoked by the inscriptions on the trunks: "L V London". This is true, because we find the same illustration on posters or advertising inserts of the time. It is even interesting to note that some of these illustrations include the phone number of the London store and others not, like our fan, which gives the Parisian number but ignores the London number.

We conjecture that (it was still the case in our distant youth) the telephone numbers were not then attributed with the current speed, and that the store of London had got its phone number too late for letting it appear on all advertising documents.

Hence an additional assumption, which is that this fan was published on the occasion of the opening of the new store of New Bond Street. The songs in French could therefore either be preferred by the rue Scribe
customers or strengthen in London the attraction for Paris novelties, at a time when the children of good family very often learned French.

        affiche 1

Lateral scenes also deserve to be studied.

On the right is indeed the shop on rue Scribe, which can be found on period phographies, and which will remain the flagship of the house until the installation on the Champs-Elysées in 1914. On the fan, the London layout seems at first sight of equivalent importance. In reality, it is a shop certainly remarkably located in a neighborhood in the meantime commercial and upscale, but whose narrow facade rivals poorly with the Paris main shop. Obviously a little optimism was already part of a good marketing approach!

New Bond Street      rue Scribe
As far as we know, the fans studied above will remain isolated in the Louis Vuitton saga through the diversity of their recto and the uniformity of their advertising side. However, the links of the brand with the fans were not completed. Thus, we learn ( that still in 1920 still, when the malletier will imagine for the 5th Salon de l'Aéronautique (at the Grand Palais in Paris) an extra-light "Aero" trunk for men, he will give it a counterpart for women: the  "Aviette" trunk which can contain "hats, linen, veils, fans, stockings, skirts... ".

Aviette 1
       Aviette 2
The following decades were hardly favorable to the fan in the world of fashion, despite some contrary examples as the asymmetrical fans of Christian Dior. However in the 1980s it was blooming again at the hands of Karl Lagerfeld, "the man with the fan". And even when he decided to abandon both the fan and extra kilos, he kept some on occasion in fashion shows, as did other fashion houses. In 2009, the
Spanish actress Rossy de Palma, Almodovar's muse, put for Louis Vuitton fans on the front of the stage. 
Rossy de Palma
In 2011, Louis Vuitton even used
Anne Hoguet's  talents and the collection of that year presented them in a somewhat crazy way. 
2011 a

(Collection Louis Vuitton Été 2011)

 « Les trois tops choisies pour incarner la collection, Freja Beha Erichsen, Raquel Zimmermann et Kristen McMenamy, sont parées d'accessoires vintage – comme les éventails, subtiles références aux influences japonisantes – mêlés à une modernité presque rock ».

(Pauline Gallard, Gala, lundi 24 janvier 2011)

2011 b

So hand fans, through the changes that have affected the world and the Maison Louis Vuitton, continue their flight!

Pierre-Henri Biger  2018

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Reminder: the reproduction of all or part of the texts or photos of this site, for any use and in any form whatsoever, is prohibited without our agreement.

Please feel free to send me your comments, remarks, criticisms ... and to contact me at any time about subjects related to the fans, especially in connection with my academic work on the topics of European fans of the late seventeenth at the beginning of the 19th century. Thank you !

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