The history of Louis Vuitton jewellery

Louis Vuitton jewellery

Vuitton is a brand founded in 1854 by luggage-maker Louis Vuitton. His flat leather trunks – which revolutionised travel at the end of the 19th century – helped ensure the reputation of the Vuitton trademark beige and brown checks. This was launched in 1888 and later adapted into azure checks.

However it was only in 1896 that the famous Vuitton canvas – a high-quality impermeable canvas comprising a warp and weft made from cotton and flax and coated with PVC – was developed to partially replace leather. It that same year, the ultimate Vuitton print was released – the LV Monogram. Originally ebony (beige and brown), it is now produced in several materials: Idylle canvas, Multicolore canvas, varnished leather, stamped leather and Mahina leather.

When Bernard Arnault took over LVMH at the end of the 1980s, he decided to expand the Vuitton range to include prêt-à-porter collections and accessories including shoes, watches, jewellery, fragrances, and even more recently coffee-table books and travel guides.

From a stylistic perspective, however, the brand really took off in 1997 with the appointment of Marc Jacobs as artistic director. From 1998, this New York fashion designer, known for his elegant yet relaxed style, created collections of prêt-à-porter and shoes which revived the brand, without losing its identity.

This established Vuitton as a distinct fashion brand, selecting its ambassadors from among the most famous celebrities, including Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Richards, Mohamed Ali and Angelina Jolie, and commissioning famous international artists to design new versions of its products. The first of these was Stephen Sprouse, an artist and fashion designer famous for a style combining chic sophistication with street style. He collaborated with Marc Jacobs on the design of the Graffiti line of handbags in 2001.

In 2002, illustrious English designer Julie Verhoeven was chosen to work with Marc Jacobs on the design of a handbag collection – the Contes de Fées collection.

A Monogram Multicolore line was also launched in 2003, following a collaboration between Marc Jacobs and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, in a style inspired by Manga. This "capsule" line – meaning intended as a one-off, like the previous collaborations – ended up joining Vuitton’s traditional lines due to its great success. This collaboration with Takashi Murakami was revived in 2005 for the creation of the Monogram Cerises capsule line.

In 2007, Marc Jacobs called on appropriation artist Richard Prince for a collaboration which resulted in a fabric using superimposition and transparency of logos – the Monogram Pulp canvas.

In 2012, it was the turn of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama to work alongside Marc Jacobs to create the Dots Infinity capsule line, alluding to her obsession with dots.

Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH, meanwhile decided to promote art and culture. This led to the opening of the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton on Rue Bassano in Paris in 2006, a space paired with the Vuitton shop on the Champs-Elysées and exhibiting contemporary artworks relating to the theme of travel. In the same year, Bernard Arnault announced the launch of a similar project on a much larger scale: the creation of a Louis Vuitton Foundation for art and culture. The creation of the future building to house this foundation in the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a zoological garden in Paris, was entrusted to famous architect Frank Gehry and it is due to open in 2014.

Today, the Vuitton brand has around 460 shops or global stores in 50 of the largest cities in the world, acting as an ambassador for French luxury. Its annual turnover in 2012 was around 7 billion euros, corresponding to more than half of the LVMH group’s profitability. Its operating margin of around 45% is the largest in the luxury sector.

Furthermore, while the Vuitton brand is attracting an increasing and ever more diverse clientele, the brand’s greatest success is currently among Japanese and Chinese luxury consumers, despite an exceptional dip in growth to 6 or 7% in 2012, due to the general economic climate.

The Speedy – a great Vuitton classic which is now an it-bag.

Created by Vuitton in 1933, the Speedy bag is available in four different sizes: 25cmx19cmx15cm, 30cmx21cmx17cm, 35cmx23cmx18cm and 40cmx25cmx19cm. This elegant bag, both timeless and practical, is the ideal accessory for all occasions (parties, travel, etc.)

It has rounded leather handles and sometimes even a strap, making it possible to alternate between carrying it in the hand or on the shoulder. It has a zip fastener and a padlock and textile lining for greater security. The Speedy’s main strength is its ample capacity, whatever the model size. As with most Vuitton bags, a brass ring allows the bag to be customised by adding internal pockets fitted with lobster claw clasps. The Speedy model generally also contains a small internal open patch pocket. Depending on its size, the Speedy model is available in several materials particularly including Monogram, Monogram Azur and Monogram Multicolore canvas, azure checked canvas and Epi leather.

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