A recent advertisement for Louis Vuitton has people wondering what exactly Louis Vuitton is selling...
Shot by Annie Leibovits, the controversial ad features Mikhail S. Gorbachev (Soviet leader largely credited with ending the Cold War) riding in the back of a town car, sitting next to his Louis Vuitton Keepall 45 duffle bag. Gorbechev gazes contemplatively out the car windows as he drives by the remains of the Berlin Wall.
And if that's not heavy enough for a glossy fashion advert, a closer look reveals even more room for question. Inside the luggage lies a magazine featuring the headline "The Murder of Litvinenko: They Wanted to Give Up the Suspect for $7000". The headline refers to ex K.G.B spy, Alexander V. Litvinenko who was poisoned last November, accusing President Vladimir Putin of the crime.
Louis Vuitton and it's advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather deny any deliberate messaging associated with the text, claiming it an unintentional coincidence. Knowing the multi-million dollar budgets, worldwide reach and expansive usage of Louis Vuitton's ad campaigns - I hesitate to believe anything in the much scrutinized final photo would not be deliberate.
So what is the message? Is it simply one of "personal journey" as claimed by Louis Vuitton? Or is it a statement on capitalism vs communism? Is the result of the capitalist victory that we get to buy Louis Vuitton bags now? Is Louis Vuitton trying to stake it's place in history, giving itself substance and importance in times of crisis? Does the bag stand as a sign of achievement?
Who knows, it's all a bit strange and unclear...but what IS clear, is that this is way too heavy handed for a fashion advertisement.