From the birth roads of Anchay to the European elite, Ashfaque Zaman takes us back in time to the rise of the iconic Louis Vuitton luggage
For celebrities, it is always about being a little extra to demonstrate that you are of a status of your own. Certain brands have minted themselves as status markers for the elite; Chanel lined the hems of little black dresses, Sabyasachi’s has embroidered the lehengas of South Asian brides, and Christian Louboutin has made hearts red with his iconic soles.
Most stars choose the century-old iconic monogram to let you know that they’re stylish at every height. A young Monsieur Vuitton moved to Paris to pursue an apprenticeship in luggage craftsmanship during the 1830s and went on to open his own workshop. Unfortunately, the first canvas with the iconic LV monogram did not take flight until four years after his death in 1896.
During the 20th century, icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel swore by the brand when they were jet-setting; it had even made its way to royalty with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Nearly 150 years later, you will see haute icons such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna, Naomi Campbell and the Beckhams pushing a cart full of the embossed trunks. And in true famous fashion, these celebs personalise it with their own monogram.
THE TRUNKMAKER’S TIMELINE
Louis Vuitton became the flight stamps of the elite at a time when flying was the ultimate luxury. What started as trunks eventually expanded its straps to bags and clutches. ICE Today marks the years of this iconic designer’s impact on the way we pack.
1835 : TO PARIS WITH LOVE
A teenage Louis decided to leave him and travel to Paris from his hometown, Anchay, to travel to Paris which was nearly 470 kilometres away. He travelled by foot and it took him about two years.
1837 : BOX ART- THE MAKINGS OF GENIUS
Finally making it to Paris, Louis would start an apprenticeship with Monsieur Maréchal, a successful trunk maker. It was considered an honourable undertaking and entailed creating luggage as well as packing them. However, he would start his own workshop 17 years later.
1851 : A ROYAL UNDERTAKING Napoleon’s takeover the French Empire would lead to a hallmark in Louis’ career. The statesman’s wife, Eugénie de Montijo, hired Louis to be her box-maker and packer. This expanded his trademark to royals and high class elites.
1854 : A YEAR OF ADDITIONS
Louis married Clémence- Emilie Parriaux and also opens his own box-making and packaging workshop (Louis Vuitton Malletier); it is located on Rue Neuves des Capucines.
1858 : THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Louis invents a trunk that is made of canvas as opposed to traditional leather. The new canvas was waterproof and a lighter material. He had also changed the shape of the trunk from the typical dome-shape to a rectangular one. This made it convenient and stackable, making a huge commercial success.
1859 : MAKING WAY FOR MORE
Following the success, Louis moved into a bigger workshop outside of Paris in Asnières sur Seine. It is still the factory, museum and family home. Louis had made his reach on an international level with orders coming in from royalty and elite of Egypt.
1871 : BUILDING BACK BETTER
His atelier was destroyed during the Franco-Prussian war and Louis decided to take the focus of this business onto pure luxury, rebuilding a new ship at 1 Rue Scribe.
1872-73 : LINEAGE AND LINES
Louis made his mark as a brand with a beige canvas trunk with red stripes. His son George joined the brand the following year.
1876 : THE START OF THE ICONIC STYLE
Louis made Rayée Canvas, a canvas pattern to beige and brown stripe. This was to avoid the ever-popular art of replicas.
1886 : THE KEY TO OUTLASTING
The exclusivity of the trunks attracted thieves. In order to protect clients, Louis developed a single lock with two spring buckles, a safety and design element that would become permanent to the labels design.
1892: LEAVING BEHIND THE LEGACY
Louis passes away and the business is taken over by his son.
1896 : LOOK FOR THE LV
George patents the monogram canvas right after its release in a very successful attempt to fight counterfeits. The LV logo is printed with quatrefoils and flowers that were inspired by East Asian design in the Victorian Era.
1914 : TRUNKS THAT TRAVEL
Louis Vuitton opens a new store in Champs-Elysees, the largest luggage and travel accessories store of its time. They expand to stores in New York, Washington, London, Buenos Aires and Bombay.
1930 : SIZE AND SUBSTANCE
The Louis Vuitton Keepall, a bag for the lighter travellers is brought to the market. The smaller version, the Louis Vuitton Speed, was the first handbag by the label with the idea of everyday use.
1936 : THE THIRD GENERATION
George dies, leaving his son Gaston to take the reins of the label.
1959 : THE NEW PRODUCTS OF NEW ERA
The company renewed the Monogram canvas, making it suitable for the small leather-goods such as wallets and smaller bags that Gaston had started to expand upon.
1970 : YET ANOTHER LOSS
Gaston-Louis Vuitton passes away
1985 : THE HIDE EFFECT
Inspired by the texture of leather in the 1920s, the Epi collection was the first leather line by the house.
1997 : MARC THE SPOT
Marc Jacobs becomes the first creative director of Louis Vuitton, designing the first ready-to-wear collection. He also introduced the Louis Vuitton city guide and the Monogram Vermis.
2003 : SIGNATURES IN COLOUR
Takashi Murakami collaborates with the fashion house to Multicolore. It is the lines first monogram collection in 33 different colours; each of which is presented against a black or white background. The designer also introduced the cherry blossom pattern to the line.
2008 : CELEBRATING THE LEGENDS
The Damier Graphite was introduced for the collections 120th anniversary and it became the only one in the line used for their men’s collection. Marc Jacobs dedicated the collection to his muse, Sofia Coppola
2013 : NEW AGE OF NICO
Nicolas Ghesquière replaces Marc Jacobs to become the new artistic director.