Why on Earth Is There a Two-Story Louis Vuitton Bag in Russia’s Red Square?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 27 2013 6:42 PM

Why on Earth Is There a Two-Story Louis Vuitton Bag in Russia’s Red Square?

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A giant Louis Vuitton trunk rises on Red Square in Moscow.

Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

Nothing says class like an advertisement masquerading as a museum that benefits charity. At least that’s what luxury brand Louis Vuitton seemed to think when it began construction on a gigantic—100 foot long and 30 foot high—replica of one of its designer bags in the middle of Russia’s historic Red Square two weeks ago. But, as workers finished off the two-story structure this week, not everyone is happy. Russian residents have deemed the two-story designer bag, which sits steps from the Kremlin, as “tacky” and politicians decried “the decision to build a shrine to bourgeois excess near such ‘sacred ground,’” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The bag, after all, isn’t really a bag at all—it’s an exhibition hall that is set to show an exhibit on, you guessed it, the history of Louis Vuitton luggage. "This exhibition is also a way for us to thank Russia for accompanying us for more than a century and a half," the company told the Wall Street Journal. Here’s more on the trunk and exhibit, both of which have teetered over the edge of absurdity, via Bloomberg Businessweek.

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The pavilion is to house an exhibit called Soul of Travel, which is to raise funds for a charity run by Russian model Natalia Vodianova. She is the girlfriend of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Chairman Bernard Arnault’s son, Antoine, who runs the Paris-based company’s Berluti menswear division. “If the show does not take place, we will not only be deprived of an exciting journey into history and beauty, but also of funds from ticket sales,” Vodianova wrote on the Facebook page of her charity, the Naked Heart Foundation.

Apparently, Russian officials had seen and heard enough, and on Wednesday reportedly announced the structure would be removed, according to ABC News.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.