Louis Vuitton (designer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton, founder of the House of Louis Vuitton
Born 4 August 1821
Anchay, France
Died 27 February 1892(1892-02-27) (aged 70)
Nationality French
Occupation Malletier
Known for founding of Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton (4 August 1821 – 27 February 1892)[1] was a French businessman. He was the founder of the Louis Vuitton brand of leather goods now owned by LVMH. Prior to this, he had been appointed as trunk-maker to Empress Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon.[2]


Designer, entrepreneur, terminology wiz, Louis Vuitton was born on 4 August 1821, in Anchay, France. Descended from a long-established working-class family, Vuitton's ancestors were joiners, carpenters, farmers and milliners. His father, Xavier Vuitton, was a farmer, and his mother, Corinne Gaillard, was a milliner. Vuitton's mother died when he was only 10 years old, and his father soon remarried. A stubborn and headstrong child, antagonized by his stepmother and bored by the provincial life in Anchay, Vuitton resolved to run away for the bustling capital of Paris.

On the first day of tolerable weather in the spring of 1835, at the age of 14, Vuitton left home alone and on foot, bound for Paris. He traveled for more than two years, taking odd jobs to feed himself along the way and staying wherever he could find shelter, as he walked the 292-mile trek from his native Anchay to Paris. He arrived in 1837, at the age of 16, to a capital city in the thick of an industrial revolution that had produced a litany of contradictions: awe-inspiring grandeur and abject poverty, rapid growth and devastating epidemics. The teenage Vuitton was taken in as an apprentice in the workshop of a successful box-maker and packer named Monsieur Marechal. In 19th-century Europe, box-making and packing was a highly respectable and urbane craft. A box-maker and packer custom-made all boxes to fit the goods they stored and personally loaded and unloaded the boxes. It took Vuitton only a few years to stake out a reputation amongst Paris's fashionable class as one of the city's premier practitioners of his new craft.

On 2 December 1851, 16 years after Vuitton arrived in Paris, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte staged a coup d'état. Exactly one year later, he assumed the title of Emperor of the French under the regal name Napoleon III. The re-establishment of the French Empire under Napoleon III proved incredibly fortunate for the young Vuitton. Napoleon III's wife, the Empress of France, was Eugenie de Montijo, a Spanish countess. Upon marrying the Emperor, she hired Vuitton as her personal box-maker and packer and charged him with "packing the most beautiful clothes in an exquisite way." She provided a gateway for Vuitton to a class of elite and royal clientele who would seek his services for the duration of his life.

In 1854, Vuitton married Clemence-Emilie Parriaux, who was only 17-years-old. Shortly after he left the shop he was apprenticing at and opened his own box-making and packing workshop in Paris. Outside the shop a sign hung reading "Securely packs the most fragile objects. Specialising in packing fashions." [3] Four years later in 1858, Vuitton introduced his revolutionary stackable rectangular shaped trunks to a market that only had rounded tops. This demand spurred his expansion into a larger workshop outside of Paris.

He continued to work until his death at the age of 70 on 27 February 1892. After his death, his son Georges Vuitton took over control of the company. [4]


  1. ^ "Timeline". Louis Vuitton. Retrieved 3 March 2008. 
  2. ^ Martin, Richard (1995). Contemporary fashion. London: St. James Press. p. 750. ISBN 1-55862-173-3. 
  3. ^ "Louis Vuitton biography" http://www.vogue.co.uk/spy/biographies/louis-vuitton
  4. ^ "Louis Vuitton biography" http://www.vogue.co.uk/spy/biographies/louis-vuitton