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Louis Vuitton

Learn about fashion house Louis Vuitton in this Howcast video with expert Nancy Deihl.


Known for excellence and innovation and high quality craftsmanship Louis Vuitton was founded in Paris in 1854 by a man named Louis Vuitton. The original name of the company was Louis Vuitton Malletier which means Louis Vuitton trunk maker. That was his expertise. He was a trunk maker and a packer.

And in those days being a packer was an interesting occupation. At this time upper class people would move their households for like months at a time, perhaps going to their winter place or their summer place, and they took their wardrobes with them. The fashion at the time required that you change your clothes several times a day, so their wardrobes were enormous. And also, their clothing itself was big. And so they needed these specialized boxes to put their clothing in. Not to mention hats, everybody wore hats, and so they needed special hat boxes.

Louis Vuitton's clientele was very appreciative of his expertise and some of his innovations in packing. For example, he developed flat top trunks that could be stacked. The company's distinctive logo of little quatrefoil shapes and the letters was developed in 1896 and patented, because even at that early stage in the company's history people were starting to counterfeit Vuitton.

Despite its association with upper class travelers Vuitton also has had a practical and rugged side. For example, during World War One they made special medicine chests and stretchers for ambulances.

Two design landmarks in Vuitton history were the Keepall, developed in 1930, which really kind of set a precedent for what weekend bags are supposed to be. It's a very lightweight, flexible bag, and the Speedy, which was another design from 1930 that was redesigned in the 1960's for Audrey Hepburn and really has an association with her. The company merged with Moet Hennessy in 1987 to form LVMH, one of the most powerful luxury goods conglomerates in the world.

The Louis Vuitton Company has an ongoing association with the arts. They have a corporate collection. They have commissioned pieces from contemporary artists, some of which have been displayed in the stores and in windows. And in 2006 they opened the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton to do projects with contemporary artists. Some of the pieces they own play with aspects of the company. Lots of artists have used the Louis Vuitton logo and made variations on it. And in a nod to the company's origins, one artist decided to do a series of postcards bearing the image of the company's founder, Louis Vuitton.

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