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The Legendary Journey of Louis Vuitton


At the tender age of sixteen, Louis Vuitton embarked on a life-altering decision that would shape not only his destiny but also leave an indelible mark for generations to come—he chose to become a trunk-master.

Louis Vuitton’s legacy as a trunk maker predates the establishment of the renowned brand. In 1837, a youthful 16-year-old Louis Vuitton arrived in Paris on foot and began his apprenticeship under Monsieur Maréchal. In an era dominated by horse-drawn carriages, boats, and trains, where baggage faced rough handling, craftsmen were sought after to skillfully pack and shield individual possessions.

Becoming an esteemed craftsman at the Parisian atelier of Monsieur Maréchal, Louis Vuitton honed his skills in the artisanal industry. His expertise involved custom designing boxes and, subsequently, trunks tailored to the specific desires of clients. After 17 years, Louis Vuitton took a pivotal step, opening his workshop at 4 Rue Neuve-des-Capucines near the Place Vendome.

The triumph of Louis Vuitton necessitated an expansion, leading to the inauguration of the Asnières atelier in 1859. Located just northeast of central Paris, this workshop commenced with 20 employees. By 1900, the workforce had grown to nearly 100, and by 1914, it reached 225.

While undergoing expansions, including the incorporation of the Vuitton family residence, the original atelier still stands as the birthplace of crafted products. Presently, 170 skilled craftsmen at Asnières dedicate their artistry to design and create leather goods and special orders for clients worldwide.

In 1886, Georges Vuitton revolutionized luggage locks by introducing an ingenious closing system that transformed travel trunks into impenetrable treasure chests.

During the 1900s, travelers carried their essentials within wardrobes and flat trunks—tempting targets for burglars. Master trunk maker Louis Vuitton sought to enhance security. In 1886, Georges, together with his son, devised a single lock system featuring two spring buckles. This groundbreaking system, patented after years of development, proved so effective that Georges Vuitton publicly challenged Harry Houdini to escape from a Vuitton box and lock. Although Houdini declined the challenge, the lock’s efficacy endures, still in use today.

In celebration of the Monogram canvas’s 100th anniversary in 1996, Louis Vuitton collaborated with six designers to craft original pieces. This iconic canvas, born over a century ago, received a creative tribute as select designers fashioned unique luggage pieces. The resulting collection embarked on a global exhibition, sharing Louis Vuitton’s innovative spirit and collaborative ethos with fashion enthusiasts around the world.

A standout creation from this collaborative celebration was a DJ vinyl box designed by Helmut Lang in 1996, showcasing the fusion of fashion and functionality emblematic of Louis Vuitton’s enduring allure.

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