Apr 14, 2016
Louis Vuitton Malletier, now commonly referred to as Louis Vuitton and operating under the luxury conglomerate LVMH was founded by Louis Vuitton himself in 1854 on Rue Neuve des Capucines in Paris, France. Today, Louis Vuitton offers a plethora of luggage pieces in countless combinations of pattern interpretations, materials, and shapes, but it all began with the trunk or “malle” in French. The very first Louis Vuitton trunk was introduced in 1858.
The Vintage Luggage Company store in Sydney’s Double Bay houses an impressive private collection of vintage Louis Vuitton trunks as well as others from Prada, Goyard and Royal Trunk. The family owned business has been collecting the pieces from around the globe for a number of years. The store is a well curated space filled with history and stories. You can’t help but feel connected to times gone by when you are there.
THE HISTORY OF LOUIS VUITTON TRUNKS
Courtesy: The Vintage Luggage Co.
1858-1876, The Trianon Canvas
In 1858, the first Louis Vuitton trunk was introduced, featuring Vuitton’s grey Trianon canvas. The Vuitton trunk was especially noteworthy upon its introduction, as it was the first trunk to have a flat top and bottom, so as to be stackable and more easily transported. Previously trunks of the day featured rounded tops to facilitate water run-off.
1872-1888, The Rayée canvas
To protect against imitation, Vuitton replaced the Trianon canvas with a red and white striped canvas in 1872. Later in 1876 he began using a beige and brown striped canvas. Both are named, Rayée or ‘Striped’ canvas in French. The Rayée canvas was used until the introduction of the Damier canvas in 1888.
1888 – Present, The Damier Canvas
To further avoid imitation of his look, Vuitton introduced the Damier canvas in 1888. The antique Louis Vuitton Damier canvas appear in two colour schemes: the more rare, red (dark red dots over a dark brown background) and white checker, and the more common, light and dark brown checker. Upon the introduction of the Damier pattern Vuitton began placing “marque L Vuitton Deposse” inside each trunk which loosely translates to “L.Vuitton Trademark”. The Damier canvas is still used frequently to this day.
1896 – Present, The Monogram Canvas
Louis Vuitton died in 1892, thereby passing the control of the company to his son Georges Vuitton. Georges had grand dreams for the brand and took great strides to catapult the company to iconic prestige as a worldwide luxury corporation. In 1896 Georges introduced the signature LV Monogram canvas, but did not sell the first Monogram until 1897. The monograms symbols, namely the graphic flower and quatrefoil, echo the oriental design trend of the late Victorian era. The world is wildly familiar with the Monogram canvas, the most dominant of canvases used by the company today.
Turn of the Century, The Vuittonite Canvas
The Vuitttonite canvas in colours of yellow, orange, brown and black appear on Louis Vuitton trunks predominantly dating from the turn of the century to the 1920’s. Colourful Vuittonites in excellent condition are rare, these fetch prices comparable to fine Damiers and Monograms. The Vuittonite canvas exists in other colours, as well. For example a special order red Vuittonite trunk designed to transport photography equipment was commissioned for early 20th century French philanthropist, for his journey to India, along with two photographers, to capture the daily lives of both the maharajas and the common people.
Late 19th Century – Present, Specialty Materials
From the 19th Century to the present day Louis Vuitton remains creative in their use of materials for their special order pieces. Materials include but are not limited to Zinc, Copper, Wood. Canvas and a plethora of Leather such as Cowhide, Calf, Crocodile, Alligator, Walrus, Lizard, Snake and Seal in a variety of treatments names by Louis Vuitton as Grained Leather, Morocco Leather, Nomade leather, Taiga Leather and Suhali Leather.
These days vintage trunks are used as coffee tables, side tables and for storage. Some open up to desks and others to dressing tables. They are inspiring pieces that all come with their own story. They look their best in a European style home and would make a great choice for gift if you are using The Gift Collective. Definitely something I would love to receive and would be a timeless addition to my home.
Visit the Vintage Luggage Company store at 16 Transvaal Avenue, Double Bay, Sydney.
Styling by Ashley Pratt. Photography by Maree Homer. Australian House & Garden