Lenin's Tomb? More Like His Louis Vuitton Trunk

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 12/03/2013 02:10:00 PM
Talk about a marketing ploy gone bad: you are looking at a giant Louis Vuitton monogram-patterned building that was supposed to house an exhibition dedicated to the famous brand in Red Square. Say what you will about Vladimir Lenin, but his mausoleum featuring his embalmed remains has been there since 1924. In a way, it continues the Russian's morbid fascination with the communist legend. Sure the ultra-nationalists and old-style communists will of course venerate him, but even those who believe times have moved on retain affection for the human who put Russia on the course of being a superpower--at least for a handful of decades.

While various (usually high-end) retailers now ply their wares in Red Square, the giant Louis Vuitton trunk was apparently the last straw. Eventually, even its promoters decried the desecration wrought on this Russian landmark:
Suddenly, the enormous Louis Vuitton suitcase was just there, standing opposite Lenin's tomb and about the same size. Muscovites wondered why, then got angry. Patriots were insulted because Louis Vuitton is a foreign brand. "An alien, foreign firm's chest" is "blocking the view of Savior Tower and St. Basil's cathedral," ultra-nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky complained.

Communists were mad because of its proximity to Lenin's mausoleum, whose facade is only 78 feet wide, compared to the 100 feet-long, 30 feet-wide suitcase. Communist Party legislator Sergei Obukhov called the over-sized piece of luggage an "indecent" intrusion into a "sacred place." And liberals took offense on aesthetic grounds. "The LV suitcase in Red Square is a very honest statement, I think," actor Maxim Vitorgan wrote on Facebook. "LV has become a symbol of bad taste ... So everything is logical. Here it is, the goal, the dream ... And who cares if the view of the square is ruined and the architectural ensemble is broken up."

In the end, both the Kremlin and GUM, the upmarket department store that helped the French luxury conglomerate LVMH erect the monstrosity today demanded its removal.
Even the most jaded of Muscovites know that prices for luxury goods there exorbitant, so I don't quite get the point in mounting this exhibit aside from, indeed, making Louis Vuitton "a symbol of bad taste." Not that preserving a long-dead communist pioneer is the height of taste but...it's almost bad enough to make you want to staple your private parts to the cobblestone.