The most famous initials in the world? LV, that stands for Louis Vuitton. For this legendary brand, everything started in the middle of the 19th century and since then its fame is still rising. Its history has been written by some great designers. Are you ready to discover everything about Louis Vuitton’s history? Relax and take a seat: The Blonde Salad is here to tell you everything about it!
From 1854 to the Eighties: Louis Vuitton and LVMH
Louis Vuitton is one of the most famous brands in the fashion industry. It was founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton. He was born in 1821, and at only 16 years old he went to Paris to work with Monsieur Marechal, the most famous malletier of that time whose trunks were very appreciated by Emperor Napoleon III.
Thanks to his skill, in 1854 he opened his own atelier in Rue Neuve des Capucines and he started creating his first trunk. Aristocrats, at that time, travelled around the world by train and they needed beautiful and resistant trunks. Louis Vuitton made a waterproof trunk, who became very fast a favourite for his rich clients.
His creations were so appreciated by his clients that his rivals started to produce counterfeited products. To keep up with innovations and to protect his exclusive designs, Louis Vuitton brought the production to Asnières, where there is still the most important leather goods atelier of the brand, and designed the famous Damier canvas, with its iconic brown and beige checks with the Louis Vuitton trademark.
In 1880, Louis Vuitton passed the company baton to his son George, who brought the maison to fame and success all over the world. He created the famous Monogram canvas, with flowers and geometrical symbols together with the LV initials. It’s still one of the most iconic fabrics of the brand. George decided to put it on handbags, like the famous Steamer, Keepall, Noé and Speedy.
At the beginning of the 1900s, Louis Vuitton was one of the most important fashion brands in the world. After George died in 1936, the baton passed to his son Gaston-Louis and then, in 1977, to his niece Odile. Ten years later Louis Vuitton merged with Moët Hennessy in the LVMH group, the biggest luxury conglomerate in the world. After two years, the businessman Bernard Arnault became its majority shareholder, and he brought under the same group two of the biggest French maison in the world, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Dior.
From the Nineties to the 2000s: the reign of Marc Jacobs
In the Nineties, Bernard Arnault understood that Louis Vuitton needed to compete on another level. It was the number one in the leather goods market, it was time to dominate also the fashion scene. In 1997, Arnault hired an American designer, that gained the spotlight for the grunge collection he designed for Perry Ellis. That designer was Marc Jacobs.
The designer had a big challenge to face: create the very first ready to wear collection of the house. He decided to bring his own eccentric and irreverent style to the maison heritage, celebrating for example the LV monogram in innovative collections. He collaborated with artists like Takashi Murakami, who designed the Monogram Multicolor and Camouflage, Stephen Sprouse, with his well known graffitis, Richard Prince and Yayoi Kusama. The famous logo was also embroidered on the Monogram Denim, who became a cult in the first 2000s.
Marc Jacobs’ era at Louis Vuitton was more thank a style evolution, but a real journey that changes the brand’s perspective every season, according to the inspiration of the moment. The brand experienced so many different styles, from French coquettes to Afro style, to Fifties BCBG to China. In these years, it became the biggest luxury brand in the world, with an estimated turnover of 6 billion euros. Marc Jacobs shaped the brand’s imagery also through iconic advertising campaigns, starring Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Uma Thurman, Gisele and also icons such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Sean Connery, Francis Ford and Sofia Coppola, Catherine Deneuve, Angelina Jolie and Keith Richards.
The partnership between Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs was celebrated in 2012 for its 15th anniversary with an exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris , which compared the lives of the American designer and the founder of the brand. These celebrations seemed like a farewell. After a year of speculations, Marc Jacobs left Louis Vuitton in 2013, staging a total black catwalk show and collection.
The 2010s: Nicolas Ghesquière’s era
Since he left Balenciaga in 2012, fashion insiders were sure that Nicolas Ghesquière was ready to take the helm at Louis Vuitton. In November 2013, the French designer started his new adventure at Louis Vuitton, with the ambitious goal to create the same hype he built in the past at Balenciaga. From the beginning, the designer reinterpreted the LV monogram on leather goods collections, that welcomed new cult pieces like the Petite Malle, the tiny trunk to carry as a clutch, and the Twist bag, with the new LV logo.
With his contemporary attitude, Nicolas Ghesquière reshaped the ready to wear collections, offering the clients new easy to wear (and to buy) pieces. The shoe collection, as well, gained a momentum thanks to iconic collections like Arclight chunky sneaker.
Louis Vuitton’s hype grew not only for the womenswear collections. The brand became a cult among men thanks to Kim Jones, Louis Vuitton menswear creative director: before flying to Dior Homme, he collaborated with streetwear brand Supreme for a capsule collection that broke the Internet. It was the first step of a new urban renaissance for the brand, that today is lead by Virgil Abloh.
Louis Vuitton in 2018
With more than 160 years behind, Louis Vuitton is probably (together with Chanel) the biggest fashion brand in the world with an estimated turnover of 10 billion euros. Louis Vuitton bags are still the faves of many street style icons and celebrities, like Emma Stone, Lea Seydoux and Michelle Williams.
As a vintage addicted, Chiara Ferragni is for sure the number one fan of Louis Vuitton. Bags and trunks have a very special place in her huge collection, and they travel with her all around the world!
If you want to be connected to Louis Vuitton’s universe, you need to follow the brand on Instagram! @louisvuitton is the official account of the maison, always updated with new collections and product drops. If you’re really obsessed with Louis Vuitton, you should follow as well @fondationlv, the official page of the amazing art foundation opened in Paris in 2014.
To end this fashion history lesson, you only need to refresh your memory with this beautiful gallery with all the most iconic Louis Vuitton’s collections designed by Marc Jacobs and Nicolas Ghesquière!