Grayson Perry's exhibition The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman now has a companion piece, in the shape of an installation at Louis Vuitton's flagship London store. The luxury fashion house, co-sponsors of the British Museum show, invited the self-styled 'transvestite potter from Essex' to design a bespoke trunk to be displayed in the Exhibition Space of its the New Bond Street Maison.
The themes of The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman are craftsmanship and sacred journeys, which ties in neatly with Perry's trunk. Adorned with his trademark folkloric figures, the trunk is called 'LVAM1' (rather like a number plate), short for 'Louis Vuitton Alan Measles 1' - Alan Measles being the artist's 50-year-old teddy bear and the star of much of his work.
The purpose of the trunk, which was made at the Louis Vuitton atelier in Asnières, is twofold. Perry wanted it to act both as a shrine to Alan Measles (though the bear on display is in fact a 'stunt double' named Elton) and as a travel case to transport the elaborate frocks the artist is famed for wearing. Perry hopes to road test the trunk next year when he travels to the Venice Biennale.
Also on display at Louis Vuitton are three dresses designed by students on the Fashion Print degree at Central St Martin's School of Art. Every year Grayson Perry tutors the BA students, who then design garments for him. This year's winning designs, by Morgan Levy, Min Nan Hui and Columbine Joubert, were remade by Perry's personal dressmakers. A film following the creation of both the Louis Vuitton bespoke trunk and the dresses will be displayed alongside the installation.
On Tuesday night, to celebrate the launch of 'The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman', Louis Vuitton also hosted a conversation between Grayson Perry and Tim Marlow at The British Museum. Perry carried a Louis Vuitton handbag, of course, as well as the winning Central St Martins entry - a gown/cape by Morgan Levy featuring an ejaculating phallus design in crystals. The artist said it made him feel quite overcome.