Home » How Louis Vuitton’s First Product Became an Iconic Statement Accessory

How Louis Vuitton’s First Product Became an Iconic Statement Accessory

When it comes to highly valued travel antiques, the name Louis Vuitton comes up tops. Nearly two centuries serving as artisans and purveyors of luxury leather goods, their well-recognised LV monogram carriers are still prized collectables in the world of fashion and beyond. Once used as travel luggage, stashed in overhead compartments and under seats, now the Louis Vuitton steamer trunks are greatly sought after high-end accessories.

Currently on display in Asnières, just outside the city of Paris, step back in time and partake in the immersive experience of Louis Vuitton’s most famous creations. The Malle Courier Exhibition showcases the maison’s history and heritage at the stately Louis Vuitton Family House, where a gallery celebrates historic collections inspired by Louis’ Malle Courrier flat-surface trunk that was first made in 1858 for a limited time.

The Malle Courier Exhibition will display no less than 19 trunk


Before he founded his namesake brand, French designer Louis Vuitton started out as an apprentice to a box maker and packer, named Monsieur Marechal. It was a humble yet dignified role that involved custom-making boxes to fit goods required on travels, which at the time were mainly by trains, boats, and horse carriages. Soon after, Vuitton was hired by Eugenie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III, as her personal box maker and packer. The employment set him on a path to greatness as it introduced him to a class of elite and royal clientele who sought his services as he built and grew the Louis Vuitton brand through the years.

Reiterating the idea that great things are built over a lifetime, Vuitton’s innovation, excellent craftsmanship, and high-quality goods that are built to stand the test of time made the steamer trunks and the Louis Vuitton brand a household name and the world-renowned luxury brand that it is today.

History is in the house—literally


As travel and exploration became more common at the time, the need for durable luggage birthed the idea for the stackable trunk. The archival trunks displayed in the exhibition details the evolution of the travel trunks, incorporating waterproof materials, rivets, locks, leather buckles, and handles. The trunk itself is made of gaboon and beechwood that absorbs shock and allows for expansion of the wood without impacting the trunk’s shape. Its ingenious design and elegant embellishing remain impressive even though the trunk’s purpose has changed over time.

The former family home-turned-atelier, workshop, and gallery still hosts regular exhibitions and art displays, collaborating with artists and creators, charging the minds of young and veteran creatives who wish to admire, study, or simply observe the opulent collections of bags, clothes, art, and design of the maison.

If you do make your way to Paris, know that special orders are still made here, and visitors are invited to rediscover the beauty of Louis Vuitton’s Malle Courrier trunks that inspired and continue to challenge the ever-evolving fashion house. No less than 19 trunks are on display, surrounded by mirrors that reflect the trunks infinitely.


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