Case closed: Louis Vuitton sent packing from Red Square

Installation of a giant suitcase by fashion house causes outrage among city dwellers

Call it stoicism or apathy, it takes a lot to wind up Russians. But the installation by Louis Vuitton of a giant suitcase on Moscow's Red Square last weekend caused outrage among city dwellers resenting the invasion of this most renowned piece of real estate.

Moscow city authorities have denied granting permission to the French fashion house to stage an exhibition of famous travellers, and their luggage, on the square. But as criticism rose to fever pitch yesterday, the Kremlin asked Louis Vuitton to remove the eyesore.

Flanked by the Kremlin walls on one side and a converted Tsarist-era shopping mall on the other, Red Square is steeped in history. Tourists who usually flock to visit the colourful Saint Basil’s Cathedral or Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum, were this week distracted by crowds of grumbling locals and television cameras swarming round the Louis Vuitton trunk.

Good cause
The fashion house said the exhibition was a non-profit event and vowed to send proceeds to the Naked Heart Foundation, a charity founded by Russian super model Nataliya Vodianova, for deprived children.


That didn’t stop the trunk, 9m high and 30m long from causing offence to conservationists who have been waging a losing battle to preserve Moscow’s architectural heritage.

Criticism also came from other sources. For the thousands of city folk looking forward to new year revels in the square, the trunk took up too much dancing space.

Sergei Obukhov, a communist parliamentarian, had ideological objections. He was scathing of Louis Vuitton for “trivialising” a place that was “sacred to the Russian state”.

Several officials called for a police inquiry into who had sanctioned the installation.

The brouhaha about the oversized trunk blew up only two weeks after Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky nailed his scrotum to the cobblestones of Red Square to protest the “apathy, political indifference and fatalism of Russian society” and Russia’s descent into a police state.