SerieS Exhibition in Beijing Taikoo Li
Valextra bonds past and present, and celebrates its timeless values and aesthetics, with an exhibition chronicling the iconic collections and products that shaped the identity of the brand since its founding in 1937. For the first time, these pieces are shown in Beijing, in the brand new store inside the renowned shopping centre and lifestyle destination, Taikoo Li Sanlitun.
The event also marks the global launch of the new SerieS: inspired by a legendary piece from the 1960s, a bag originally created for the sophisticated, cultured traveller. Part of the AW19 collection the bag is a tribute to the discreet elegance of Milan and its design legacy, as well as a look to the future, with the Chinese city’s innovative stance inspiring the brand’s contemporary outlook. The exhibition creates a bond between Milan and Beijing, past and present, the pioneering innovations of the brand’s founder and its future inspirations.
The original 1961 SerieS takes cues from traditional doctor bags, featuring an asymmetrically-cut trapeze shape, an off-center handle engineered for easier carrying and a double compartment inside, to fit both business documents and a change of clothes. In 1969, the company successfully released a women’s version of the bag, featuring softer lines and feminine proportions. With this contemporary edition, Valextra pays tribute to the globetrotting, jet-setting attitude of the 1950s and 60s and to the quintessentially Milanese spirit. Looking back at eight decades of excellence, the pieces on show demonstrate a commitment to engineered beauty, innovation and luxury, the values which have driven the company ever since its founding by Giovanni Fontana in 1937. His iconic store in Piazza San Babila 1 in the heart of the city, served as an aristocratic meeting point for the city’s elite.
The exhibition focuses on iconic bags and small leather goods from the 50s, 60s and 70s enlightened decades when designers, architects, intellectuals and entrepreneurs gravitated across Northern Italy, driving dramatic innovations which had a great impact on the culture of the country. During this period, the company licensed over 100 patents and won the prestigious Compasso D’Oro design prize. It was also a time when Italian cinema with international celebrities came to the spotlight and a new lifestyle emerged as a consequence of increased mobility and connectivity. Notable customers included Maria Callas, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, Ornella Vanoni, Farah Diba, Ira Von Furstenberg, Silvana Pampanini, and many more. It is during this time that Valextra shaped its most legendary collections, catering for both the traveling businessmen and for the discreet elegance of the Milanese, jet-setting woman.
The exhibition demonstrates this versatile, original approach with displays which include the Bambù Bag (1948), the first iconic bag produced by Valextra, featuring a patented side fastening in gold and a harmonious steel construction, light and flexible. Also on display is the Tric Trac (early 1950s), born as a men’s bag and built without a frame, shaped on a wooden mold and featuring the iconic patented “pugno” opening. Later translated into a women’s evening bag, it remains one of the most long-lasting icons among Valextra’s offering. The Small Leather goods include little wondrous pieces such as the Luce keyholder, fitted with a light, the Grip spring wallet and the Tallone coin purse: pocket-sized, stylish inventions for their time, still to this day must-haves of any gentleman customer.
The setting for this fusion of past and present is offered by the ingenious store design, by Martino Gamper. The Italian, London-based designer devises a playfully somber space featuring pastel-colored, suspended shelves and modular display elements in different materials such as stone, terrazzo, wood and linoleum. The geometric arrangement of the space gives it a museum-like aura, making it the ideal set for this collection of mid-century pieces. The exhibition brings together a series of pieces which perfectly embodies the timeless Milanese values of Valextra, its modernity and its inspired future vision; a collection which tells a story of culture, beauty, quality and innovation.