The history of the fashion house Louis Vuitton - one of the largest assets of the richest European Bernard Arnault - began with suitcases in 1837. That year, the 16-year-old son of a poor carpenter, Louis Vuitton, who covered a distance of 437 km from his hometown of Lons-le-Saunier to Paris on foot, got a job as an apprentice to Monsieur Marechal, one of the most successful manufacturers of packaging, boxes and chests. At the time, the craft was considered respectable and well paid due to the popularity of rail travel. Aristocratic families often went to neighboring countries for a couple of weeks, taking with them a decent amount of things, and accordingly suitcases.
1 of 6 Chest belonging to Nadar Photo Studio, 1890 © ru.louisvuitton.com Hat chest, 1887 © ru.louisvuitton.com Chest made of genuine calfskin, 1889 © ru.louisvuitton.com Chest made of gray canvas, 1860 © ru.louisvuitton.com Custom made chest © ru.louisvuitton.com
Louis Vuitton worked under the guidance of Mr. Marechal for 17 years, having established himself as one of the best practitioners in this field. The most wealthy and famous people of France, including the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenia, turned to him for the manufacture of suitcases. In 1854, Vuitton decided to leave from under someone else's wing and open his own workshop, and not just anywhere, but on Boulevard des Capucines. Five years later, the demand for Vuitton's luggage had grown so much that he had to open another facility in Asnieres, an industrial suburb of Paris.
1 of 5 Louis Vuitton Workshop in Asnieres © en.louisvuitton.com Louis Vuitton Workshop in Asnieres © en.louisvuitton.com Louis Vuitton Workshop in Asnieres © en.louisvuitton.com Louis Vuitton Workshop in Asnieres © en.louisvuitton.com Louis Vuitton Workshop in Asnieres © ru.louisvuitton.com
Despite the great commercial success, Louis Vuitton remained one of hundreds of the same professional, respected and sought-after masters. They all made similar convex travel trunks with a round lid, which prevented the accumulation of moisture on the surface and at the same time made the process of transporting luggage heavier (the suitcases could not be stacked on top of each other). Vuitton dreamed of doing something fundamentally new - and so, by the beginning of the 1860s, a rectangular chest with a flat lid and a closure on the side appeared, which was named Trianon. He solved the problem with the leakage of suitcases thanks to the waterproof textile upholstery, and with the chipping of the corners - due to special metal fasteners. For his design, Louis Vuitton was awarded a bronze medal at the World Exhibition in Paris,which was attended by almost 10 million guests from 32 countries.
1 of 10 The process of creating Louis Vuitton chests © press service The process of creating Louis Vuitton chests © press service The process of creating Louis Vuitton chests © press service The process of creating Louis Vuitton chests © press service The process of creating Louis Vuitton chests © press service The process of creating Louis Vuitton chests © press service Louis Vuitton chests creation process © press service Louis Vuitton chests creation process © press service Louis Vuitton chests creation process © press service Louis Vuitton chest creation process © press service
In subsequent years, Louis Vuitton developed the company together with his son Georges, with whom, in particular, he applied brown and white stripes to the chests, and then the now recognizable chess print. This was done not so much for decoration as to prevent mass copying of suitcases. And to protect the contents, father and son came up with a special lock with two springs, which was impossible to open. Georges Vuitton suggested to check this to the American illusionist Harry Houdini, known for his ability to get out of any confined spaces. Houdini did not accept the offer.
Along with the details, the functionality of the Louis Vuitton chests also changed. At the request of customers, clamshells, cases for champagne, shelves for a tea service, hooks for a punching bag and even compartments for books turned out to be inside. Ernest Hemingway became the owner of such a library chest, who, however, lost it in the Parisian Ritz. Later, when the writer stayed again at the hotel on Place Vendôme, the staff asked if he would like to pick up the chest, which had been gathering dust in their basement for 20 years. Inside were the diaries that Ernest Hemingway kept during his stay in Paris and which later formed the basis for the book "The Holiday That Is Always With You."
1 of 8 Louis Vuitton Chest Library, designed for Ernest Hemingway © Press Office Louis Vuitton Travel Suitcase and Vanity Table Designed by Sharon Stone © Press Office Louis Vuitton Punching Bag Designed by Karl Lagerfeld © Press Office Chest Louis Vuitton for medical instruments, designed by Damien Hirst © press department Louis Vuitton chest designed to carry Diana Vishneva's concert costumes and pointe shoes © press department Wardrobe chest, Louis Vuitton, based on sketches by James Tarrel © press department Louis Vuitton dressing table created in collaboration with with Cindy Sherman © press service
Today, when almost 130 years have passed since the death of the carpenter's son, who managed to make a name in the production of chests, and the Louis Vuitton brand itself is associated not so much with suitcases as with bags and clothes, unusual orders continue to be accepted in Asnieres. Although the fashion house also has a permanent collection of chests available in boutiques: the most democratic of them - a jewelry storage box - costs 107 thousand rubles, the most expensive - a one and a half meter wardrobe - will cost 13.9 million rubles. Despite the fact that the modern function of luxury goods is also to show them to others, and Louis Vuitton chests are imprisoned in four walls (during travel they were replaced by more compact and functional suitcases of the same brand), there is still a demand for them. The owners of the chests themselves spoke about why Louis Vuitton's legacy is so attractive.
1 of 13 Chest-dollhouse © press service Chest-bag © press service Chest for storing jewelry © press service Chest for storing bulky items © press service Chest for chess © press service Chest for dishes © press service Chest for storing watches and glasses © press service Chest for storing shoes © press service Picnic chest © press service Chest with flowers © press service
Olga Smirnova, collector
My husband and I have been Louis Vuitton customers since 2008. During this time, I acquired ten branded chests, one of which was made for me in Asnieres for 1.5 years. This is a Malle Wardrobe chest with clothes hangers and drawers for accessories, which I keep ready-made looks for important events.
Another iconic chest for me is the Boite Flaconnier, designed to hold aromas at home. However, my husband took it for himself: inside there is a Kalabash pipe, like in the movie "Inglourious Basterds", created by the same author. This chest is painted: it depicts an octopus, symbolizing omnipotence - the husband has a tattoo with an identical image. There are other painted items in my collection: for example, our dog Chantal and an Art Deco girl are painted on two Coffret Tresor chests, which contain jewelry, and monstera leaves are depicted on the Toiletry Case, which protects cosmetics. I acquired this chest while preparing for the anniversary, for which I chose a tropical design. Therefore, he became for me a kind of reminder of the holiday, which is now always kept at hand.
One of the chests not only holds objects and memories, but literally influenced my life. This is the Malle Fleurs that Louis Vuitton has sent to honorable customers: it contains a waterproof iron box that allows you to insert a wet sponge and flowers inside it. My love for bouquets began from this chest - now I collect them myself. Moreover, in the near future I plan to open a flower business.
Louis Vuitton chests are a great investment: over the past year, my beauty case has risen in price by 100 thousand rubles. But these are also things of great historical value, especially if you managed to get a chest from the era of Louis Vuitton himself or to establish the identity of the previous owner of the chest. This can be done both by the identification number and by the applied initials. Contrary to popular belief, personalization only increases the cost: for many, it is not the chest itself that is important, but the one in whose living room it was located.
Victoria Shelyagova, gossip
I have several Louis Vuitton chests that I carry as bags or use as home furnishings. The first is the Twisted Box, designed by Louis Vuitton in collaboration with architect Frank Gehry and embellished with a Monsters, Inc. girl. The painting was done according to my idea by French artist Leslie, who has been working in the Louis Vuitton office for many years. The second is a Soft Trunk with a hologram that shimmers like a May bug. The chest was included in the fall-winter 2016/17 collection and was produced in limited quantities. The third is Coffret Polyvalent, originally designed for jewelry storage. It depicts a winter fairy tale: hares, squirrels, mountain ash, snow. The fourth is a cube with my initials and my husband's initials, at from the fashion house for their wedding anniversary. And finally the fifth - a cube,whose painting was taken from a hairband: a lady in a hat, a car, a travel theme. Also during my trip to Asnieres, I ordered a pill box. In the historical workshop of the brand, you can embody any of your ideas, whether it be a chest for storing champagne, caviar, game roulette or gramophone records. However, the Louis Vuitton coffin cannot be ordered yet.
I would like to purchase a large vintage Louis Vuitton chest, but I haven't come across it anywhere yet. It can be used for storage or as a table - it is very beautiful. I do not consider such things as an investment: I believe that in our rapidly changing and unpredictable world it is difficult to predict what will increase in price and what will not. Nothing is eternal. Therefore, I prefer to shop for the soul.
Yana Rudkovskaya, producer (spoke about her collection on Instagram)
I started collecting chests 12-13 years ago, I already have a large collection. As for the large chests, everything is clear here. It is convenient to store glasses in them, at the bottom there are tights and swimwear. [There is also] a boudoir chest where perfumes, various jewelry are kept … Very convenient. But the most interesting thing is what is stored in small chests and in general what small chests are for. This is a good investment because chests are only getting more expensive. And in principle, it is a [excellent]t, a wonderful thing that can please any woman at any time and in any country.
[I have] a box for jewelry and perfume. […] It is very old, rarity, with the stamps of Moscow. This is a novelty in my collection. There is also a watch chest. […] It's very cool because you can store your watch right here and nothing will happen to it. […] Every box, even the smallest object, is considered a chest. Quite a few of them are made. In my opinion, only 2.5 thousand chests a year. And all this is manual labor.
Irina Oganova, writer
Louis Vuitton chests are not only large boxes, but also miniature bags, made according to the same principle. I have two of them: one is from a modern collection, the other is vintage, bought and painted in one of the brand's stores. In the future, I also want to purchase a large old chest with which I will decorate the space. It's easy enough to find: vintage is sold in flea markets and antique stores, and in different conditions and for different money. This is no wonder - only those models that are released in limited quantities are exclusive. This is a really great investment and a tribute to a brand that has been able to create iconic pieces and go beyond something fleetingly trendy.