Louis Vuitton (4 August 1821 – 27 February 1892) was a French businessman. He was the founder of the Louis Vuitton brand of leather goods now owned by LVMH. Prior to this, he had been appointed as trunk-maker to Empress Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon. Designer, entrepreneur, terminology wiz, Louis Vuitton was born on August 4, 1821, in Anchay, France. Descended from a long-established working-class family, Vuitton’s ancestors were joiners, carpenters, farmers and milliners. His father, Xavier Vuitton, was a farmer, and his mother, Corinne Gaillard, was a milliner. Vuitton’s mother died when he was only 10 years old, and his father soon remarried. As legend has it, Vuitton’s new stepmother was as severe and wicked as any fairy-tale Cinderella villain.
A stubborn and headstrong child, antagonized by his stepmother and bored by the provincial life in Anchay, Vuitton resolved to run away for the bustling capital of Paris. On the first day of tolerable weather in the spring of 1835, at the age of 14, Vuitton left home alone and on foot, bound for Paris. He traveled for more than two years, taking odd jobs to feed himself along the way and staying wherever he could find shelter, as he walked the 292-mile trek from his native Anchay to Paris.He arrived in 1837, at the age of 16, to a capital city in the thick of an industrial revolution that had produced a litany of contradictions: awe-inspiring grandeur and abject poverty, rapid growth and devastating epidemics.
The teenage Vuitton was taken in as an apprentice in the workshop of a successful box-maker and packer named Monsieur Marechal. In 19th-century Europe, box-making and packing was a highly respectable and urbane craft. A box-maker and packer custom-made all boxes to fit the goods they stored and personally loaded and unloaded the boxes. It took Vuitton only a few years to stake out a reputation amongst Paris’s fashionable class as one of the city’s premier practitioners of his new craft.
Napoleon III’s wife, the Empress of France, was Eugenie de Montijo, a Spanish countess. Upon marrying the Emperor, she hired Vuitton as her personal box-maker and packer and charged him with “packing the most beautiful clothes in an exquisite way.” She provided a gateway for Vuitton to a class of elite and royal clientele who would seek his services for the duration of his life. In 1854, Vuitton married Clemence-Emilie Parriaux, who was only 17-years-old. Shortly after he left the shop he was apprenticing at and opened his own box-making and packing workshop in Paris. Outside the shop a sign hung reading “Securely packs the most fragile objects. Specialising in packing fashions.”
Four years later in 1858, Vuitton introduced his revolutionary stackable rectangular shaped trunks to a market that only had rounded tops. This demand spurred his expansion into a larger workshop outside of Paris. He continued to work until his death at the age of 70 on February 27, 1892. After his death, his son George Vuitton took over control of the company.
Louis Vuitton Malletier, commonly referred to as Louis Vuitton or shortened to LV, is a French fashion house founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton. The label’s LV monogram appears on most of its products, ranging from luxury trunks and leather goods to ready-to-wear, shoes, watches, jewelry, accessories, sunglasses, and books. Louis Vuitton is one of the world’s leading international fashion houses; it sells its products through standalone boutiques, lease departments in high-end department stores, and through the e-commerce section of its website. For six consecutive years (2006–2012) Louis Vuitton has been named the world’s most valuable luxury brand. Its 2012 valuation was 25.9 billion USD.