Celebrating 200 years of Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton's bicentennial birthday on Aug 4 will be marked with a series of initiatives such as a mobile game (left) and a high jewellery collection. PHOTOS: LOUIS VUITTON

SINGAPORE - The man behind French luxury trunk maison Louis Vuitton (LV) turns 200 this year.

The fashion house will mark Louis Vuitton's bicentennial birthday on Aug 4 with a series of initiatives throughout the rest of the year.

These include a mobile game, store window displays across the world, a documentary on the life of Vuitton and a new high jewellery collection to commemorate his life in a pastiche of sparkling gemstones.

Born in 1821 to a humble family in the town of Anchay in France's eastern French Jura region, Vuitton began his journey to prestige on foot as a 14-year-old.

He travelled across the country to Paris and, after more than two years, landed in the workshop of renowned trunk maker and packer Romain Marechal, where he stayed on as an apprentice.

Word of his craftsmanship and skill spread quickly when he was appointed personal box maker and packer to Empress Eugenie, wife of French military leader Napoleon III, propelling him to prominence among rich and noble Parisians.

In 1854, Vuitton founded his own maison near Paris' Place Vendome - which continues to house many of today's high fashion brands - and developed an innovative flat trunk design with waterproof canvas instead of traditional leather.

He also came up with iconic LV designs such as the Damier chequered pattern and a striped canvas called Rayee.

His son, Georges Vuitton, would later create the brand's emblematic monogram pattern of geometric shapes and the initials L and V, which cover bags, apparel and even furniture today.

The brand has since become one of the top luxury brands worldwide, with boutiques in high streets and malls across the globe.

The commemorative programme - Louis 200: Louis Vuitton's Bicentennial Birthday - will kick off on Aug 4 with the release of the mobile game, Louis The Game, on Apple's App Store and Android's Google Play Store.

Players will help LV's mascot Vivienne navigate six imaginary landscapes such as Luminous City and Monogram Island in search of candles that will help her progress to her final birthday destination. A global leaderboard will be available for players to compete against their friends.

There will also be the unveiling of a large-scale triptych of Vuitton in Paris by American artist Alex Katz.

The 200 Louis programme will mark Vuitton's bicentennial with 200 unique displays at store windows all over the world. Invited artists and talents were given the freedom to design a box of similar measurements to the original LV trunk to pay homage to the founder's creativity with their own artistic expression. Among those who have contributed are American architect Peter Marino, South Korean boy band BTS and French Paralympic swimmer Theo Curin.

American architect Peter Marino is one of the contributors for the project 200 Louis, featuring 200 unique store window displays. PHOTO: LOUIS VUITTON
South Korean boy band BTS is one of the contributors for the project 200 Louis, featuring 200 unique store window displays. PHOTO: LOUIS VUITTON

In October, a novel by French writer Caroline Bongrand will explore Vuitton's life and intentions in prose. It will be available in French and English. Meanwhile, Looking For Louis, a documentary which tells his rags-to-riches story, will be available on streaming platforms such as Apple TV at the end of the year.

Crowning the commemorative activities is the unveiling of a high jewellery collection named Bravery in Monaco last month, which features 90 scintillating pieces as a tribute to the founder's determination and adventurous spirit.

French writer Caroline Bongrand's novel (left) and Bravery, Louis Vuitton's new 90-piece high jewellery collection. PHOTOS: LOUIS VUITTON

Curated by LV's artistic director for watches and jewellery Francesca Amfitheatrof, the collection comprises gemstones such as tanzanites, emeralds, opals and rubies assembled in remarkable detail on necklaces, rings and bracelets.

LV's chairman and chief executive officer Michael Burke says: "Louis' coming-of-age tale, that of a risk-taking, innovative, natural leader, defines the maison he founded and advances us into the future.

"Through the disruptive and dynamic initiatives of Louis 200, we can appreciate how Louis was a figure of his time - and of ours."

Correction note: An earlier version of this story referred to Empress Eugenie as the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. It should be Napoleon III. We are sorry for the error.

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