For anyone who has ever worked up a sweat trying to cram clothing, accessories and other must-haves into a tired old suitcase, all the while eyeing the clock in a rush to catch a flight, a new book by Thames & Hudson showcases a decidedly different way to travel.
And what an elegant way it is, as revealed by even the most casual skim through “Travellers’ Tales: Bags Unpacked.”
But those with a love of adventure, history, celebrity and travel itself will want to spend much more time with this handsome — and hefty — edition.
Written by Bertil Scali and illustrated by Pierre Le-Tan, “Travellers’ Tales” ($95) is a 400-page exploration of how some 50 notables ranging from authors to heiresses, royalty to rock stars, actresses to dancers, fashion designers to singers have hit the road (or rail, sea and sky), from the golden age of transatlantic crossings through contemporary days.
And the featured personalities, from writer Ernest Hemingway to actress Elizabeth Taylor, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld to artist Henri Matisse, magician Harry Houdini to photographer Helmut Newton have shared not only a propensity for worldwide travel but also doing it with a most stylish companion — Louis Vuitton luggage.
The glamorous journey gets underway with a brief history of travel itself, before moving onto its focus — the discerning personalities and the trips they made with their Vuitton trunks, totes, bags and suitcases, often custom-made designs described in detail, from monograms to materials to specially built features, including secret compartments.
Scali, a Parisian-born writer and editor with a specialty in biographical narrative, delves into the stories of these singular people and their travels, sharing incredible details that evoke a smile, a touch of envy — or
sometimes outright disbelief.
Film legend Greta Garbo, we find out, filled her canvas Vuitton bag with a pair of blue espadrilles, flannel pajamas and jars of a favorite jam. A minimalist, you might think… until reading that she also had a Vuitton trunk made especially for her 70 pairs of Ferragamo shoes.
Hemingway, it’s said, owned and lost several Vuitton trunks in his day, once rediscovering — nearly 30 years later — the manuscript for “A Moveable Feast” in a trunk he left at the Ritz Paris, while African explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza commissioned a pair of trunks that could turn into beds, each complete with “a striped, two-tone articulated mattress.”
Composer and songwriter Cole Porter, featured as the “Voice of the Roaring Twenties,” was clearly not one to travel light:
“With his bride, Linda, Cole Porter set off on a honeymoon that would whisk them away to the south of France, the Italian Riviera and Sicily. In his luggage were dozens of double-breasted suits and high-collared shirts, hundreds of neckties, pocket handkerchiefs and hats. All set for the high life!”
And it’s not just clothing that receives special attention from these discerning types. We read of how Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones icon and longtime Fairfield County resident, carries one of the 150 treasured guitars he owns in a custom-made Vuitton case.
Other notables with ties to WAG country featured in the book range from Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe (who married Arthur Miller in White Plains, the union then celebrated in Waccabuc) to groundbreaking modern dancer Isadora Duncan, who had connections to several Westchester communities including Scarborough and Croton-on-Hudson.
Tying it all together in a most delightful fashion are the illustrations by Le-Tan. Capturing the personalities of those featured in a most whimsical manner, they are as ideal a companion for the text as the book itself is for those who love the journeys of life itself.
For more, visit thamesandhudsonusa.com.