LUG­GAGE THROUGH THE AGES

FROM THE ERA OF STEAMSHIPS TO THE AGE OF JUMBO JETS, LOUIS VUIT­TON HAS AL­WAYS BEEN THE PER­FECT COM­PAN­ION FOR THE DIS­CERN­ING TRAV­ELER

DA MAN - - Brand Story -

What usu­ally comes to mind when you hear the name Louis Vuit­ton? The mai­son’s iconic mono­gram would most cer­tainly pop up, along with im­ages of bags or jack­ets bear­ing that dis­tinct mo­tif. per­haps even watches, some­thing that the brand has be­come in­creas­ingly known for. but, Louis Vuit­ton has for even longer been known for its bags and—as any­body fa­mil­iar with the brand’s his­tory can tell you—lux­ury trunks.

see, travel has al­ways been part of Louis Vuit­ton. in fact, be­fore he went on to es­tab­lish his epony­mous brand, mon­sieur Louis Vuit­ton was first and fore­most a cel­e­brated trunk mas­ter. be­fore he es­tab­lished his fa­mous work­shop at 4 rue neuve-des-ca­pucines near the place Ven­dome, paris, the young Louis Vuit­ton would be­come an ap­pren­tice at the parisian ate­lier of mon­sieur maréchal. This, mind you, was the age of horse-drawn car­riages, where travel was rough and lug­gage was treated even rougher. so, his skills in creat­ing cus­tom boxes and trunks were highly sought after.

Ahead of his Time

as time went on, the name Louis Vuit­ton be­came fore­most in the minds of trav­el­ers across the ages. This rep­u­ta­tion, how­ever, came not solely from qual­ity—although it needs to be said that qual­ity has al­ways been fore­most a pri­or­ity at the mai­son. an equally crit­i­cal but per­haps un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated facet of Louis Vuit­ton’s renown is how it meets the ever-evolv­ing chal­lenges pre­sented by new modes of trans­port. as travel changed, so did lug­gage—or the need for new lug­gage pieces. and Louis Vuit­ton seemed to be able to an­tic­i­pate what fu­ture trav­el­ers would need.

a good ex­am­ple would be the car trunk, which was first un­veiled—in pro­to­type form—in 1897. That was less than a decade after the birth of the mod­ern gaso­line-pow­ered car and quite a long time be­fore au­to­mo­biles ac­tu­ally be­came com­mon. Louis Vuit­ton’s steamer trunks, mean­while, was in­spired by transoceanic travel

us­ing steamer ships. Fi­nally, the ad­vent of air travel saw the birth of the aéro trunk and the avi­ette. These were de­signed for max­i­mum car­ry­ing amount at the low­est pos­si­ble weight. yes, checked bag­gage al­lowances is not a mod­ern day in­ven­tion.

The Next Steps

be­ing in­no­va­tive is one thing; keep­ing that spirit of in­no­va­tion, how­ever, is how the game is won. and this is a game that Louis Vuit­ton ex­cels in. take, for ex­am­ple, the case of the car trunk as men­tioned ear­lier. as au­to­mo­biles ac­tu­ally be­come com­mon­place, the brand rolled out a dust­proof wa­ter­proof trunk called the ex­cel­ski trunk—per­fect for a day on the road. This is also the area where the “spirit of travel” in­spired the brand to cre­ate fab­u­lously cre­ative pieces, from trunks that housed pic­nic ware to one that con­tained a bed.

yes, that last one is quite real. Louis Vuit­ton’s leg­endary trunk bed was cre­ated for ital­ian ex­plorer pierre sa­vorgnan brazza, for whom the city of braz­zav­ille—cap­i­tal of the repub­lic of the congo--is named for. The trunk bed fea­tured a case made of zinc and cop­per for re­sis­tance to dust and damp­ness, and, again, came with a bed that could be folded and stored in­side it. it was cer­tainly play­ful but also quite func­tional, to say the least.

in the jour­ney by sea depart­ment, mean­while, Louis Vuit­ton’s creations con­tin­ued with the wardrobe trunk, which would be­come a clas­sic piece. back in the day, how­ever, a trunk that acted quite lit­er­ally as a mo­bile wardrobe was in­valu­able for jour­neys that would span weeks if not months. The mai­son also show­cased its mas­tery of func­tional pieces with the cabin bag (which is ba­si­cally the pre­cur­sor to to­day’s hand­bag) and the steamer bag (Louis Vuit­ton’s first sup­ple bag, which could eas­ily be stowed in the cabin of a steamship).

yet another change in travel habits would come in the 1960s. short week­end trips would be­come pop­u­lar and travel be­came much more ca­sual. This era gave birth to the Keepall, another sup­ple bag that’s stylish, prac­ti­cal but also play­ful—es­pe­cially the world tour vari­ants which is adorned with Louis Vuit­ton em­blems and pop im­agery to re­sem­ble the heav­ily stick­ered trunks of sea­soned trav­el­ers.

See It Now

what’s most poignant about look­ing through Louis Vuit­ton’s legacy of travel pieces is learn­ing that this legacy lives on in the mai­son’s more re­cent of­fer­ings. There is, for in­stance, the doc bag by ni­co­las gh­esqueire un­veiled in 2014, which is a mod­ern take on the cabin bag. mean­while, Kim jones’ shear­ling hik­ing back­pack from a year ear­lier is a prime ex­am­ple of the next evo­lu­tion­ary step from tra­di­tional, hand-car­ried packs to con­tem­po­rary forms.

but don’t just take our word for it, as jakarta will play host to Louis Vuit­ton’s “time cap­sule” ex­hi­bi­tion. This event will show­case a vis­ual time­line of land­mark mo­ments in Louis Vuit­ton’s story, told by his­tor­i­cal pieces flown all the way from the brand’s vaunted archives. The ex­hi­bi­tion will take place at se­nayan city, jakarta, from oc­to­ber 16 to novem­ber 4, 2018, is open to the pub­lic and ad­mis­sion is free.

shear­ling back­pack de­signed by Kim Jones; a Pic­nic trunk and its con­tents; the fa­mous bed trunk with the bed un­foldedop­po­site page a book trunk

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