As arguably the most global French heritage brand, Louis Vuitton remains as one of the world’s most intriguing fashion labels to boot. Founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton himself, the luxury brand has made the LV monogram its signature across leather goods and fashion for almost 200 years now. Along with that, Louis Vuitton has a strong history of collaborating with legendary artists such as Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, and Takashi Murakami, among many, many others. Four times a year, Nicolas Ghesquière (the current womenswear creative director) and Virgil Abloh (current menswear artistic director) churn out covetable collections that keep the collective fashion world on their toes too.
But beyond that, the brand has always had a deep relationship with travel—perhaps more than the average luxury fashion brand. Travel is, in fact, one of the brand’s biggest inspirations, as Louis Vuitton propels itself into the future, whether it’s through a stunning ad campaign photographed in an exotic location or the sheer nature of one of the head designers taking inspiration from an amazing trip.
The Asnières Workshop
Louis Vuitton’s love of travel began shortly after the leather goods house was founded. The year was 1859 (barely five years after Louis Vuitton the brand was created) and the location was Asnières, a charming village northwest of Paris. For Vuitton, the village (though close, it was a far cry from the noise of central Paris during the time) demonstrated how travel, even in the smallest sense, can transform and inspire a brand.
For the fashion house, it was not only inspiring to have a light-filled atelier constructed in the futuristic Eiffel style of the time (the opposite of dark Parisian workshops). It was also an ideal place to produce leather goods due to the location and ease of travel. Situated on the bank of the Seine, Asnières was the perfect place to receive the handcrafted materials, such as poplar wood, which were needed to make the classic trunks. One of the first railway lines in France also passed through Asnières, leading to the Gare Saint-Lazare, which was close to Louis Vuitton’s first store. The workshop naturally became the headquarters of savoir-faire over the years, and Louis Vuitton constructed trunks, luggage, and special orders for customers around the world. Over 160 years later, the Asnières atelier continues to be the source of many of the leather goods, hard-sided designs, and one-of-a-kind pieces.
The entire nature of the Louis Vuitton brand is founded on the idea of travel. The very first Louis Vuitton piece ever created was a trunk or “malle” in French, in 1858. Though the classic trunk was an everyday item used for travel, Vuitton practically reinvented it, making it more durable and stylish than ever before. First made of gray trianon canvas, Vuitton’s original trunk was the first to have a flat top and bottom, to make it more easily stackable during transportation.
Since then, the brand has solidified itself as the most luxurious brand of travel trunks in the world. Some of the original styles from the 1800s are still produced and coveted. Take, for instance, the signature LV Monogram canvas first sold in 1897. This style was designed by Louis Vuitton’s son, Georges Vuitton, after his father passed away and passed control of the company to him.
Les Petites Nomads
Furthering the brand’s dedication to taking inspiration from travel, just last year Louis Vuitton presented its first collection of decorative leather objects for the home at Milan Design Week. Dubbed Les Petits Nomades, the collection included a tropical-inspired vase by Humberto & Fernando Campana, a Leather Rosace tray by Atelier Oï, and one-of-a-kind overlay bowls designed by Patricia Urquiola, in addition to other small home items.
The Scent of Louis Vuitton
Alongside leather goods, accessories and clothing Louis Vuitton have also become a leader in fragrance heavily inspired by travel since 2016. Today, there are ten perfumes in the main collection, the most recent of which is Cœur Battant, a beautiful mix of sparkling pear, Egyptian jasmine, and ylang-ylang, which launched just this month. Perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud was inspired by the location of his creative atelier in Grasse, in the South of France, where the tropical microclimate makes the sleepy town bloom with florals.
The Art of Travel
Just this fall, Louis Vuitton took its love of travel even deeper with a beautiful tribute to Vietnam’s most striking locations. David James lead the artistic direction while photographer Angelo Pennetta captured models Rianne Van Rompaey, Fei Fei Sun, and Kit Butler in Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh, and inside stunning temples. With some of the most iconic Louis Vuitton designs (the Steamer bag, the latest On The Go shopper, the Alma in Epi leather, and the Petite Malle from the New Classics range) the new campaign represents the overall inherent connection to travel that represents Louis Vuitton. Like the Asnières Workshop all those years ago, the brand’s deep love of travel is intrinsically reflected.