The history of luxury is pretty fascinating, as visitors to 10,000 Years of Luxury, a first-of-its-kind exhibition in the Middle East, soon find out. Taking place at Louvre Abu Dhabi until 18 February 2020, the groundbreaking exposition delves into luxury through fashion, jewellery, visual art, furniture and design. And, in all, the region’s first comprehensive exhibition on the history of luxury showcases approximately 350 objects from 30 countries, spanning several millennia.
Under just one roof, visitors can get an insight into how luxury has been diversely defined, from ancient civilisations and their worship of the gods, to the exquisite finery of the 18th century and the Industrial Revolution and its impact on the mass consumption of luxury goods. The exhibition, which is organised by Louvre Abu Dhabi, Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Agence France-Muséums, also examines contemporary luxury.
“In this exhibition, we are exploring humanity’s connection to luxury across time and cultures, taking a long lens on the subject from ancient treasures to present day haute couture,” Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said. “This approach is consistent with Louvre Abu Dhabi’s universal narrative, which is part of our DNA. We are grateful to our main partner Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the many institutions, including haute couture icons, who have contributed exceptional pieces to this wonderful story of luxury cultures from Antiquity to the present day.”
While it draws primarily from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs’s collection, plus some other French, international and local institutions, 10,000 Years of Luxury also displays works from Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection.
“Luxury is everywhere in our world today – surrounding us in objects, images, and language,” Olivier Gabet, who curated the exhibition, said. “This exhibition gathers rare artefacts kept in French National Collections, but also precious archaeological pieces recently unveiled in Abu Dhabi. It will offer a new way of understanding the notion of luxury and its historical roots,” Gabet, who is also the Director of Musée des Arts Décoratifs, added.
Taking over 12 rooms, 10,000 Years of Luxury has objects on display ranging from a Mamluk carpet from Egypt dating back to the 15th century to an hourglass by Australian designer Marc Newson. And each piece offers a different viewpoint on what defines luxury, whether it’s time, craftsmanship or rarity.
Plus, the luxury of fashion is highlighted with vintage and contemporary creations by iconic fashion designers like Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Maison Schiaparelli, Azzedine Alaïa and many more. Another highlight is a recreation of an 18th century Parisian boutique, displaying the ingenious work of the marchand-mercier and the first forms of commercialised luxury. There is also an olfactory art installation, USO - The Perfumed Cloud, created by Cartier’s in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent with TranssolarKlimaEngineering at the exhibition, which is aptly sponsored by Tryano, the only luxury department store in Abu Dhabi.