It is safe to say that Louis Vuitton is certainly a brand that has stood the test of time, with a rich history that spans over a century. From humble beginnings as a trunk maker, the brand quickly gained recognition for its exceptional craftsmanship and innovative designs.
In 1837 and at the age of 13, Louis Vuitton left home for Paris - during a time where horse-drawn carriages, boats and trains were the main modes of transportation - Louis travelled on foot. He found work as an apprentice to the master box maker and packer Romain Maréchal where Louis stayed and honed his skills for 17 years. His reputation grew to the point that in 1853, Louis was appointed the personal box maker and packer of Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III and Empress of France. In 1854 Louis left Maréchal to open his own workshop near the Place Vendôme.
Traditionally trunks were produced with a domed lid, so that rain and mud would roll off the luggage during transit. Louis introduced his revolutionary flat topped rectangular trunk in 1858, which made it possible to stack for transportation. He also replaced leather coverings, which were heavy and prone to cracking, with a waterproof stain resistant Trianon grey canvas that he had developed, whilst he utilised lightweight wood for the frame. His exceptional talent in creating custom trunks gained recognition among aristocrats and travellers alike, becoming synonymous with luxury travel… Durable but equally stylish, Louis Vuitton’s trunks were skilfully crafted to withstand the rigors of long journeys - stackable, lightweight, and waterproof, he had revolutionised the luggage industry.
In 1886, Louis’ son George, developed the radical unpickable lock, so effective that even Houdini passed on a challenge to escape from one of these boxes. George was also responsible for designing the signature Louis Vuitton monogram pattern we recognise and associate with the brand to this day.
As the brand grew in popularity, so did its range of products. In 1915, the French fashion designer, Coco Chanel commissioned George to create a bespoke handbag, which led the brand into its journey of smaller leather goods. In the 1930s, Louis Vuitton obtained permission from Coco Chanel to mass produce her bag, known today as the Alma. The fashion house expanded its offerings to include luxury handbags, accessories, and ready-to-wear collections. Audrey Hepburn was a huge fan of the Speedy travel bag, and requested it be made in a smaller size, which is why we now have the Speedy 25. Each piece was created with meticulous attention to detail and reflected the brand's commitment to quality, elegance, and sophistication.
In 1936, George passed away, leaving Louis Vuitton in the capable hands of his son, Gaston-Louis Vuitton. Then in 1977 Gaston’s son-in-law Henry Racamier took over, his mission was that of global expansion and in 1987 he merged Louis Vuitton with Moët & Chandon and Hennessy, to form a luxury goods conglomerate that we know today as LVMH. This elevated the French Maison to a whole new level.
Over the years there have been several collaborations with artists and designers which has resulted in fresh ideas and growing popularity for an already established brand. In addition to its modern creations, vintage Louis Vuitton pieces are highly sought after by collectors due to their rarity and historical significance. Behind every Louis Vuitton product lies a story - stories of travel, adventure, and timeless style.
Today, Louis Vuitton continues to be at the forefront of luxury fashion, constantly pushing boundaries while staying true to its heritage. The brand's commitment to quality craftsmanship and timeless design ensures that it remains an enduring symbol of elegance and sophistication in the fashion industry. The bags themselves have become iconic symbols of luxury and are coveted by fashion enthusiasts around the world. Owning a vintage Louis Vuitton piece is like owning a piece of history - an heirloom that transcends trends and stands as a testament to enduring style.
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