The Fashion of Travel

NEW YORK, NY -- Louis Vuitton, the world's largest luxury goods company, founded in 1854 by businessman and master trunk maker Louis Vuitton (1821-1892), has continued reign supreme within the realm travel fashion. Although more widely known today for their popular Neverfull totes and runway top handles, many forget this mega brand had humble beginnings producing travel luggage, and more importantly, the Trunk.

At the age of thirteen, Louis Vuitton began apprenticing under Monsieur Maréchal, a master trunk maker whose workshop was located on the corner of the rue Saint-Honoré and the rue du 29 Juillet in Paris. In 1854, Vuitton became an independent business owner with a vision to create durable, long lasting travel pieces that were lightweight and easy to maneuver.

Vuitton’s adaptation of the traveling steamer trunk was paramount. To account for weight and feasibility, a lightweight wood skeleton and canvas hinges replaced the traditional heavy leather dome-topped models, which at the time were mass-produced for the market. The application of the canvas strip in exchange for metal hinges was undoubtedly the most significant modification to the construction of the steamer trunk. The canvas strip not only allowed for ease of opening and closing, but also allowed for the piece to maintain a flat 3-dimensional surface.

Ridding the trunk of a leather exterior and replacing it with a waterproof canvas prevented the trunks' extremities from premature decay and drying. Vuitton first launched Trianon Gray in 1858, and to prevent counterfeit models, unveiled a striped model in brown and beige. His son Georges quickly followed suit with his Damier or checkerboard pattern in 1888, and finally the iconic Monogram pattern in 1896. The Monogram comprising interconnecting diamonds, flowers, and stars remains the most popular pattern among Louis Vuitton collectors and consumers. Today, designers and collectors alike have repurposed these once consumer luxuries into statement furniture pieces guaranteed to pop in any room setting.

Featured in the Doyle at Home auction on June 26, 2019 is a Louis Vuitton Grand Wardrobe, circa 1920-1930. The wardrobe opens to reveal a segmented interior comprising six graduated canvas drawers, hangers and a traveling shoe case, along with the maker's leather label. The Monogram canvas exterior bears the original owner's initials in red ‘H.G.R., Princeton, N.J.' and various remnants of ship labels, including those of the Italian ocean-liner-turned-WWII aircraft carrier the M.S. Augustus.

-- Erin Mandley, Consignment Services

Doyle at Home

Auction June 26, 2019 at 10am
Exhibition June 22-24

Lot 1498
Louis Vuitton Grand Wardrobe  
Circa 1920-1930
Monogram canvas pattern of interlocking LV's, naif-style diamond stars and flowers; monogram H.G.R. Princeton, NJ on sides with partial travel labels; interior with six drawers, portable shoe case and hangers; brass lock inscribed 10 Champs Elysées Paris, Louis Vuitton, London, 149 New Bond Street, Modèle Deposé.
Height 21 1/2 inches, width 44 1/4 inches, depth 21 1/2 inches.
Estimate: $5,000-7,000
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