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The Art of the LV Monogram

Mable Yiu

Louis Vuitton would have turned 195 years old on Thursday, August 4th. Walking down the streets of New York City, LV-monogrammed totes and wallets can be spotted everywhere. The floral pattern emblazoned with Vuitton’s initials is arguably the most recognizable designer logo in the world, and the fame and respect it has garnered did not come about overnight.

One thing to note: the iconic monogram associated with Louis Vuitton was not in fact designed by Louis at all, but rather, his son Georges. Louis Vuitton was a professional box-maker who made his name while working for French emperor Napoleon and from his iconic rectangular packing trunks. By the time of Vuitton’s death in 1892, he had already created his own brand which was taken over by his son, Georges. In 1893, Georges presented the company’s products at the Chicago World’s Fair. Three years after that, he designed the now-iconic Louis Vuitton monogram, which featured his father’s interlocking initials surrounded by minimalist florals. The monogram was printed on canvas instead of leather, as the new material proved to be more durable.

Smart marketing, high-end branding, and elusivity have allowed the Louis Vuitton monogram to stay relevant through the decades. Moving into the twentieth century, LV trunks became staples in the Hollywood scene and hit the pages of Vogue. In the 1980’s, Harlem boutique Dapper Dan created knockoff products featuring the Vuitton monogram and sold them for significantly cheaper prices, presenting the design to a new audience and furthering the brand’s appeal.

Marc Jacobs became the creative director of Louis Vuitton in 1997 and presented a resurgence of the iconic LV, printing it on shiny vernis leather and pairing it with graphic flowers and cherries. A monogrammed cherry blossom bag was worn by Regina George in the 2004 it-comedy Mean Girls, sparking a younger generation’s interest in the brand. Over Jacobs’s years as creative director, he printed the monogram on umbrellas, fans, hats, and even nursing masks (see the 2008 Spring ready-to-wear collection).Despite trends being in constant flux, the Louis Vuitton monogram has withstood the test of time. Vuitton’s pattern can be spotted anywhere from Central Park to Fashion Week. The design is a symbol of everlasting luxury: bold, recognizable, and absolutely timeless.

By Matt Bernstein