Louis Vuitton may be better known for bags than for books, but the label has some impressive publications under its belt, and its flagship stores often feature carefully curated bookshop areas. Travel is invariably a starting point; its City Guides offer an intelligent take on an ever-widening range of global destinations, and its Travel Books, which view towns or nations through an artist’s eye, revive the concept of the sketcher’s grand tour.
Vuitton’s latest project has a more oblique, impressionistic approach. The Fashion Eye collection is a visual take on a city or region through the lens of a well-known fashion photographer, past or present; Thursday November 3 sees the launch of the first five volumes (€50 each; €350 for one of 1,500 sets of five in a Plexiglas case).
Each volume is very different. Paris is observed through the atmospheric, mainly black and white, mid- to late-20th-century images of Jeanloup Sieff, who was born and lived in the city and died there in 2000, and whose intimate work conjures a nostalgic – though not always glamorous – era. India features the iconic 1960s photography of Henry Clarke, often shot for American Vogue and featuring the supermodels of the day – such as Veruschka or Moyra Swan – in brightly coloured styles against ornate Mughal architecture.
Miami is closely associated with Guy Bourdin, who died in 1991, but whose pictures of Americana, whether trashy or ultra-luxe, are adventurous, ironic and atmospheric. They make an interesting comparison with the view of California according to 35-year-old Canadian photographer Kourtney Roy, whose colour-saturated images – based on wide landscapes and often featuring herself – are printed on special high-gloss paper. In contrast, fine, double-layered matt paper is used to give a grainy, misty quality to pictures of Shanghai by Wing Shya, who worked as a set photographer on director Wong Kar-Wai’s films for many years.
Each book contains an appreciation of or interview with the photographer involved and they are beautifully produced, with coloured hard canvas covers – spicy saffron for India, swimming-pool blue for Miami.