Since the 60’s , The Chelsea Hotel holds the same clout of class. Undeniably known for its avant-garde artists and their avant-garde parties, it also held home to many artists and writers such as Mark twain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Ethan Hawke, Pink Floyd and Leonard Cohen to name a few, who created the timeless pieces that we know of today. Man-Laï Liang owner of Man-Lai events, our host and permanent resident of the hotel for well over forty years, states that “There is knowledge of a Friendly ghost or spirit that is in this building”. She holds a very strong sense of positive energy. This spirit was and still is said to reinvent you in helping you produce your best work. Amid them Man-Lai was a model, a photographer and most importantly one of the first stylist known in the industry in Europe (France and Barcelona) at first, then in New York when she moved here permanently.
Having this in mind, Artists were known to have a bartered deal with their talents to use as rent when they produced a work of art. Although they were many artists and authors residing in the Hotel, the photographers living there were few. Nonetheless, they were always ready for candid shots in the Chelsea.
They made sure they did not miss the shots of Woody Allen coming in and out on the regular and of Madonna when she was shooting for her book “SEX”. In addition to these big names, some of her neighbors were known for being some of the biggest heroin dealers, drag queens and pimps of their time in the city, they were one of the reasons why the Chelsea was alive and infamously known for their doped drugged dance parties. And how did they keep the parties in the loop of the nightlife ? Well, the fire alarms held some of the highlights from the New York Post. Rumor has it that the original owner’s son Stanley Bard had connections with the NY Post and had hoax alarms to attract limelight. They would pull the fire alarm at a certain time during the party so all the celebrities could gather in the lobby waiting for the fire department where The New York Post would already be waiting for these infamous photos of the rich and famous partying at The Chelsea.
Our host Man-Lai Liang would count us anecdotes of The Chelsea Hotel through the decades and it’s fascinating. She is literally the living oracle of the place. She knows everybody from Uma Thurman who was a resident of the hotel to Warhol perusing the place as if he was strolling through central park after brunch on a Sunday afternoon. Also, many iconic movies were shot in the Hotel, The professional (Leon), The Chelsea girls by Andy Warhol, 9 ½ weeks to name a few.
I had the privilege to shoot a couple of photos in Man-Lai’s living room which reminded me tastefully of the 1960’s.
Among the room left still intact is the new owner’s offices. The door furtively opened during one of my visits and my eyes graced a small corridor ornate of old dark oak wood molding and an extraordinary fauvism wall paper with big palm leaves and small birds that disappeared subtly amid this make belief forest. Just breathtaking!
In 2012, owners changed and Chelsea was sold to a hotel group which is their third transfer of ownership. As of now it is more of a ghost town. And with its current construction the gleam and glamour of Chelsea Hotel is under serious surgery. They are said to have dedicated about 22 luxury condos (which are for sale ). These rooms will all have :Central air, central heating, a modernized and sleek look with the addition of a washer and dryer; none of the things that the hotel built between 1883 to 1885 ever had. In some of the units, the old fireplaces will remain as a decoration or a reminiscing piece of the past.
A few years before the construction and change of ownership in 2012 they started to evacuate the quarters that were apartments so that they could change them into hotel rooms and condos.
Only 14% of tenants still reside there nowadays; it used to be 75% tenant occupied.Though the Chelsea has been home to numerous writers, musicians, artists and actors the hotel no longer accepts new long-term residencies; luckily the building is still home to many who lived there before the change in policy.
It will take more than this article to go in the depth of this place that decades ago was an eccentric genuine madhouse or precisely known as the temple of the New York art and entertainment scene of the past decennials because of its location in the theater district before it moved to Midtown.
The subject is extensive. Nevertheless, we are curious of the Chelsea’s fate. Will the reputation remain, vanish or more so rebuild itself after the luxury revamp? Will the Chelsea be written about as part of the history that made New York infamous for it’s party scene throughout the four last decades alongside Studio 54 and the Limelight which were just club scene but equally insane? Or will it be considered swallowed by modernity and the need to transform most of the landmark buildings and places in New York as another development of New York real estate portfolio? Or regain its notoriety as the “Hubert home clubs” as it originally intended to be around 1880?
A decade from now perhaps, it will just be history unknown by the youth, and perhaps just another building in New York city were you just walk on its sidewalk ignorant of its past. I can only hope that the friendly ghost that is said to live there, inspires whomever moves in and purposely perpetuates the artistic spirit that emanates from this place and its walls, and consciously transforms the residence into this artist den it was once before… subconsciously at least…
I was very thankful and honored to be witness to the art captured at this museum expo and have a newfound respect for Vuitton.
Who would have known the house of Vuitton started off with a fourteen-year-old trekking to Paris on a two-year journey by foot? Once Vuitton settled down, he immediately snagged a job as a box maker/packer apprentice for Roman Maréchal. Little did he know that this was the beginning of his trademarked label in trunks and luggages. Each room in the LVNYCVVV takes on its own representation of Vuitton and his vision throughout the building as well as the branding of his label.
The first rooms hold some of the first pieces assembled by Vuitton himself. He includes elements such as locks, ribbon tufting and canvas motifs that were an exclusive distinction to his brand alone during the beginning era of travel luggage.
Furthermore, the showcase in ROOM 2 featured all the materials used in the manufacturing of a trunk.
(TOOLS USED BY LOUIS VUITTON HIMSELF TO CREATE SOME OF HIS EARLIEST WORK)
Not only were the tools that Vuitton used vital, the choices of wood that he used for his trunks were an essential element as well. His choices of wood were known to reflect the forested landscapes of his native village in Franche-Comté, with wood being the heart of his passion; he was keen on using certain woods for specific reasons. He applied reinforcements and interior with beech, camphor tree for pest control, and rosewood for a pleasant fragrance. These critical components of his early trunk work not only distinguished his work amongst his peers, but became a staple in his line to many of his trunks and special luggage orders to this day also on display in showcase 3. Moving along to the third showcase, you can see the evolvement of his “classic trunks”. Here, we can see the color schemes, motifs, shapes, and designs the house continued to enrich in their vocabulary of volume.
Without a shroud of doubt, Vuitton claims the reputation of “safely packing the most fragile objects” with a “specialization fashion packaging“ in his time.
Leaving the prior room in awe, and with newfound respect for Vuitton, you can bear witness to the upcoming showcase rooms 4,5,6. These showcase the timely transition of the famous Vuitton trunks into compact and convenient travel luggage. You can also find some of his earliest automobile, aviation, and train luggage from the early twentieth century.
(Special order pieces for Mr. Citroën from his colonial exposition of the 1931 crossing of the Silk Road through Asia)
(EARLY AUTOMOBILE PICNIC TRUNK MAKING PIT STOPS ALONG THE WAY ESSENTIAL)
In addition to Vuitton accommodating all modes of travel in all the rooms, in room 4 he allowed himself to break the norm of luggage as we know it today; in the earliest twentieth century Mr Vuitton invented the steamer bag, which in return revolutionized the creative industry of hand luggage and served as a prototype for highly successful future manipulations in the fashion industry.
(FIRST LINE OF LV STEAMER BAGS EST. Early twentieth century)
Stepping into rooms 7-10 gives us another vision of Vuitton. After his death in 1882, the beauty of fashionable luggage captured Vuitton’s sons Gaston-Louis Vuitton and is perfectly represented in the last of the showcase rooms. In ROOM 7 you can see the Vuitton’s love for fashionable luggage with his own personal collection of trunks he acquired from his travels.
Room 8 capitalizes on the gleam and glamour of LV. The next two rooms showcase a multitude of stars and impressive individuals in his era who solely trusted their beloved belongings to the trunks or luggages of Louis Vuitton.
(DRESSING TABLE IN MOROCCO LEATHER EST.1935)
(WARDROBE CLOSET WITH FOLDOUT IRONING TABLE AND REMOVABLE HANGERS)
Here you can see some of his most stylish luggage that accommodates all the beauty needs of the rich and famous.
Room 8 showcases the sophisticated dandies and collaborations with Vuitton from popular designers. It also showcases the latest collaboration from 1996 (when other famous designers celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the monogram canvas) until now with fashion designers such as Manolo Blahnik, Helmut Lang, Azzedine Alaia, Yayoi Kusama and Vivienne Westwood.
(LOUIS VUITTON IN COLLABORATION WITH SUPREME, SKATEBOARD TRUNK IN MONOGRAM SUPREME CANVAS, FALL-WINTER 2017-2018)
Following the year of the Anniversary was another cornerstone collect for the house of Vuitton. With the new Artistic Director Marc Jacobs, they secured their spot in the realm of ready-to-wear fashion. Overseeing the position for over 16 years, he always made sure that his taste for contemporary art was nurtured.
By inviting the entire spectrum of artistry and artists, he was able to see their vision and translation of the vocabulary of trunks and bags through various collaborations.
In conclusion, Louis Vuitton became the leader in olden (and modern) travel luggage. He sought out to produce innovative and efficient trunk luggage, and with each passing collection or line, Vuitton styles continues its relevancy of its convenient and chic brand. Louis Vuitton – Fashion Mogul.
A fantastic adventure on the life of Mr. Louis Vuitton .
Today, a few understand Vuitton’s vision by collecting his precious trunks. Among them Alexandre Soleyman, collector and dealer of Vuitton trunks, is perpetuating Mr Vuitton’s legacy with his company The Well Traveled Trunk. He has some of the most beautiful Vuitton’s trunks in his artillery and lucky for us they are available for purchase https://thewelltraveledtrunk.com/
BY Drake Pearson
Preppy Trendy Mag Collaborator
I crave deeper bonds, deeper connections; where people can truly be themselves and can have discussions without offending nor imposing their views upon others. Where free spirited beings would gather without being afraid of who they are, what they think, what they look like. I learned in my early twenties to discard of and curb any non-beneficial or non-educative interaction. That is why I hate going to night clubs where the impression of the same old pretentious and surreal crowd suffocates me. I am fond of small group hangouts, where real people and at least enjoyable acquaintances can contribute to an unforgettable evening.
Well, last night I was disappointed. I was invited for supper at a friend’s apartment. And as it turns out I didn’t enjoy it. Usually, I leave those gatherings with a big smile and a sense of fulfillment and recharged for the work week ahead. Last night apparently, I did not. It was awkward. I totally felt the pain of Alessia Cara in her song Here at that dinner.
The attendees were a bit tense around dessert and tea portion of the feast; between the right-wing nationalist and the free spirited, everyone seemed to want to impose their views. This violation of freedom irritated me a for bit. We were ten people reflecting on our society now. A society where individuality and competition are praised; but very hypocritical on how the other isn’t allowed a voice if it’s not one’s way of thinking. A society where everyone thinks they are right. A society where if you don’t agree with me, you are my enemy. A society of conformists and sycophants.
I believe that this kind of outlet still exists; a place where exchanges, and boring conversations that help us all to unwind from a stressful work week can be pleasant. A place where freedom of speech and opinions of others are respected. Where we can talk about art, culture, travel, fashion and food without offending anybody. A place where you can learn to accept each other and grow. A cluster of thinkers, artists and free spirits. Somewhere we can all gather to celebrate life; eat the best cheeses, drink the best wine, sip on the best whiskey, eat fresh fruits and drink the best champagne, taste the best food, and simply enjoy each other’s company and the time being. I might depict a dreamy salon scene and sound decadent but what else is life when it’s deprived of these moments.
I refuse to acknowledge the impression that the world has been reduced to this foggy mirror of conceit, selfishness, arrogance and intolerance which is reflected nowadays in our society; thus, resulting in this one pleasant gathering to be at the breach of canceled friendship subscriptions. It’s was simply not my scene.
By: Marie Caroline Charles