“In the blink of an eye he exchanged the cloth frock and hobnailed shoes of a worker for the courting outfit of the day. The transformation was spectacular, but it required all the know-how of the store’s department manager, since Louis’ shoulders were much larger than those of Parisian bureaucrats.”
– Henry-Louis Vuitton (describing Louis Vuitton)
Louis Vuitton was a well-known bag and trunk maker who founded an incredibly successful high fashion brand. However, Louis didn’t start as a high fashion designer, he an innovative box maker and packer. He was the first to make rectangular trunks, for easy stacking and transport on railroads and cars, the first to make a water and odor proof trunk, and lastly, the first to make a light, hand carried trunk made of canvas. Now we can see Louis Vuitton’s legacy every day. The brand ‘Louis Vuitton’, started by Louis Vuitton, is the world’s leading luxury fashion retailer. Even though Louis died almost 150 years ago, his brand’s bags, clothes and even his original designs from the 19th century are owned by most prominent celebrities. Nonetheless, Louis Vuitton’s rise to become a well-known designer was not easy. He was born in a small French village called Anchay. There he grew up with his father and stepmother, but at the age of thirteen, Louis grew bored of the provincial life in Anchay and decided to run away to Paris. This was no small task, he didn’t have a form of transport and Paris was 292 miles away. What did the determined and headstrong Louis Vuitton do? He walked to Paris. It took him three years, but once he was in the capital of France, he was taken in as an apprentice by Monsieur Marechal, a renowned box maker and packer in Paris. Seventeen years later, he became the French Empress’ personal box maker and packer, which opened a door to an entirely new rank of elite and royal clientele allowing him to open his own workshop another three years later. Louis Vuitton’s challenges didn’t end there; when the Franco-Prussian war broke out and resulted in the siege of Paris, he was sent out to fight and had to abandon his beloved business. When Louis returned from the war, he found his staff dispersed, his equipment stolen, and his workshop destroyed. Once again putting his determination to use, he only took several months to build a new shop at a new location. This new address was near the prestigious Jockey Club, which once again opened a door to the elite of Paris. This is how Louis Vuitton created one of the longest lasting luxury brands in the world, which is why I am very interested in researching him. I think Louis’ perseverance and drive to follow his passion is a good lesson for everyone about how following your dreams and working hard can make anything possible.
Louis Vuitton is an interesting person for me to explore in this year’s eminent because I am interested in fashion design, and I think that Louis’ life is a remarkable story of perseverance and success. Louis was known to be a very determined person, who wouldn’t stop working towards a goal until he achieved it. Louis was also a very independent person, running away from his small French village at the age of thirteen to travel 292 miles on foot to Paris. I can’t match Louis’ determination and independence, but they are also some of my most prominent traits. Louis’ independence also relates to my goal for TALONS: To become a more independent and autonomous learner. Louis Vuitton started a fashion empire on his own, due to his personal interests and passions, and not because someone pushed him to, which I think is an excellent example of autonomy. One of the main barriers that will impair my connection with Louis is that he lived in the mid-19th century and I live in the 21st. The perception of the brand Louis has created has also changed over time. Back in the 19th century, it was a brand that specialized only on box and trunk making, and only catered to royal and elite clientele. Now, the brand still retains its roots of luggage-making, but it is also a colossal fashion brand that isn’t as exclusive it was in the 1800’s. Due to this, when it is time for speeches, I will make sure the audience understands that the life of Louis Vuitton in the 19th century is very different from the glamour of the Louis Vuitton brand we see today.