Céline has a long and deep-rooted history in the world of fashion. The first boutique was opened by Céline Vipiana and her husband, Richard at 52 rue Malte in Paris. Together they created one of the first luxury brands in the industry, Céline, a made-to-measure children’s shoe business. Then, year after year, the maison’s success allowed it to expand. Céline Vipiana remained the designer from 1945-1997.
In 1960, the brand changed positioning and began focusing on a women’s ready-to-wear fashion brand with a sportswear approach. In 1963 it presented a women’s shoe line, and 1966 saw the début of a leather collection. In 1973, Céline redesigned its logo with the intertwined “C” Sulky canvas, linked to the Parisian symbol, Arc-de-Triomphe.
Acquired by LVMH
In 1996 the brand was officially acquired by LVMH, Bernard Arnault, which owned several luxury and fashion brands, for $540 million. At this time, LVMH made the brand popular and opened a boutique on 36 avenue Montaigne in Paris.
The firm, guided by Nan Lergeai, the person at Dior responsible for the Far East, began a policy of opening single-brand boutiques all over the world, with particular attention to the Asian and American markets.
In 1997 American fashion designer Michael Kors was named the first ever women’s ready-to-wear designer and creative director for Céline. After he was hired, the brand quickly evolved, and in May 2001 the company opened their first single-brand boutique in London, at the prime address New Bond Street. Then, in August the Isetan Museum in Tokyo dedicates a retrospective to Céline illustrating the maison’s style from 1945 to the present day, highlighting the changes made in 1997 with the arrival of artistic director Michael Kors.
The celebrated Grant bag, very successful in the 1960s, is the main feature, and it is sewn right in front of visitors in a miniature cardboard version. The pieces on sale are limited and numbered, personalized with the buyer’s name.
In September 2001 with the advent of the single European currency, Céline creates a dedication to the euro with a collection of accessories decorated with the twelve coins which are to be issued. After London and Antwerp, Club Céline arrives in Italy, in the new boutique opened in Galleria Cavour in Bologna. The firm expects to open 100 more points-of-sale by the end of the year.
The Poulbot Bag
In May 2003 the new Céline bag is called Poulbot. This name is almost unknown, and derives from Francisque Poulbot, an contemporary artist with Toulouse-Lautrec, by whom he was inspired when painting the street urchins of Paris. Since that time, poulbot has meant urchin, and the bag is called an “urchin” or “rascal” bag. It hangs like a shoulder bag, bombé and round with seams held together by metallic rivets, made in leather of bright colors such as orange, fuchsia, and electric blue.
Also, Céline offers a mini-Collection inspired by the streets of Paris. The name chosen for the collection, Macadam, is the name of the paving material put down in 1854, an important element in the stylistic identity of the city. The Collection is to last a single season. By this time, Céline has seen a lot of growth and now has 63 boutiques all over the world.
A Hard Time
October 2004 Roberto Menichetti makes his début in Paris as the creative director of Céline. He replaces the American Michael Kors as the artistic head of the historic French maison. By May 2005, after only two seasons, the collaboration between the Italian designer and the French maison comes to an end. The separation is consensual.
Later in June, after the opening of the boutique on via Condotti in Rome in 2004, another prestigious store is opened on the very central via Tornabuoni in Florence. It is a nice way to celebrate the griffe‘s 66th anniversary. In the previous four years, the griffe shows a growth in turnover of 50%.
A year later, the Croatian designer, Ivana Omazic, was appointed director of the design studio. He was a former consultant for the brand and previously worked with Prada, Jil Sander and Miu Miu. Omazic designed for Céline until 2008, after further disappointments for the brand.
On September 4, 2008 the LVMH Group names Phoebe Philo as the new creative director and board member of the brand. The designer incorporates her own twist to the brand by drawing attention to the tailoring and materials. Vogue defined the new aesthetic look she brought to the brand as the “cool minimal trend”.
In 2014, the brand is at its peak, when the House opens new flagship stores in Mount Street (London), Avenue Montaigne (Paris), Omotesando (Tokyo), SoHo (New York) and Plaza 66 (Shanghai). At end of 2014, Céline completely renovated its new headquarters at 16 Rue Vivienne, a historical building which was built in 1653. The building is on the national heritage list, originally owned by King Louis XIII and positioned in the heart of Paris.
In 2015, in order to be faithful to the minimalist spirit of Céline, the brand chose one of the legendary American authorJoan Didion to be the face of SS15 campaign.
The year 2017 has undergone many changes for Céline, in the beginning of this year, Séverine Merle joined Céline as new CEO. Later in February, the brand finally launched an official Instagram account to strengthen its social media presence.
The official Céline website is one of few fashion website without e-commerce capabilities, but there is no doubt that online sales have become the fashion industry’s most important and promising engine of growth, therefore, on 27th of February, Céline announced plans to launch e-commerce.
In August, Céline entered Indian market for the first time by signing an exclusive partnership with Le Mill, a concept store in Mumbai. Also, after holding the position of creative director in the house for 8 years, Phoebe Philo is preparing to depart from Céline by the end of 2017.
Christian Dior (1905-1957). A tailor and a designer who was among the most important figures in all of French haute couture. Dior was born in Gramville, in northwestern France. He had a happy childhood in Paris, as well as on holiday in Normandy, in which he was free to abandon himself to his genius for drawing and to a real talent in making costumes for carnival and for informal parties at home.
He already had a definite instinct for art and for the joy of living. He had a clear calling for artistic creation, supported by constant visits to museums and galleries, would emerge only later. After interrupting his university studies in political science, and having put aside the idea of a diplomatic career, which was desired for him by his parents, he started a partnership with his friend Jean Bonjean, the owner of an art gallery in Paris. In this art gallery there where the main figures of the various avant-guards of the 20th century exhibited their works.
Designer at Piguet and Lucien Lelong
But his mother’s death and the bankruptcy of his father’s business changed his life, making his tormented youth the exact opposite of his happy childhood. In 1934, he fell seriously ill with tuberculosis. After a year of recovery in Spain, he went back to Paris and began to work on the fashion section of the weekly Le Figaro Illustré. He designed hats and began to sell sketches of clothing and accessories to several fashion houses. This lean period lasted 7 years, until 1938, when he found a steady job as a clothing designer at the maison Piguet. One of his first successes was a very full skirt that could be worn even in the daytime.
Then, the outbreak of World War II and his service with the army engineers put a stop to everything. The signing of the armistice found him in the south of France where, in his father’s house, he would spend a year and a half enjoying nature and the simple life of a village. Only the insistence of his friends convinced him to return to Paris, in 1941. His place at Piguet wasn’t there waiting for him, but he did join the maison of Lucien Lelong, where Balmain also worked as an assistant. There, for many seasons, he would design the collections, creating very tight skirts as well as flared skirts, bringing success not only to Lelong, but to himself as well, because he became the head dress designer.
The Beginning: Dior Maison
By now, he felt ready to manage a maison of his own and knew he could count on an innate talent for business. It was 1946, the year of his partnership with Boussac, who financed him with the considerable sum, for the time, of 60 million francs. In this adventure he was joined by some of Lelong’s key people, such as Raymonde Zehnacker, Marguerite Carré, and Mitza Bricard. A young Pierre Cardin was hired as cutter. His team went to work immediately, in the building on Avenue Montaigne.
The New Look
In the collective memory, he is linked to the New Look, which, on February 12th 1947, made him famous in one day. It was his first Collection. After the morning presentation, he was pushed out on the balcony of his atelier at Avenue Montaigne 30 to salute a crowd of applauding women. The Paris newspapers were on strike, and so the explosion set off by Dior was felt first in America, where Carmel Snow, the director of Harper’s Bazaar said, “It’s a new look.”
The women’s collection, offered in the Corolla line, later called the New Look, was extremely new in its accentuated femininity, but with an antique touch: a very tiny waist (the corset and girdle were back, like a sudden jump into the past), high breasts, small shoulders, and long, full skirts with tulle petticoats to increase the bulk. It was a look backwards compared to the liberated body of Poiret and the one caressed by Chanel. It was a return to an aristocratic elegance, and also to a battle of hems, from Collection to Collection.
Dior returned the fashion world back to femininity. He launched immense, long blossoming skirts, with waists squeezed by small bodice-jackets, made half the women in Europe dream and tremble with trepidation. His intuition was striking, but the event which really decided his future was a meeting with Marcel Boussac. The French textile entrepreneur had everything to gain from a lifting of the wartime restrictions on fabrics, and each of Dior’s swaying skirts consumed more than 16 yards of fabric, while an evening dress took as much as 27 yards.
Avenue Montaigne, an address which is still today considered magical and pivotal in the expansion and increase in places and regions of a charismatic empire, whose charm was always respectful of the furnishings and atmosphere chosen by Dior: Louis XV armchairs with the grey-and-white medallion that was a symbol of the maison on the back. Another motif associated with the maison was the lily of the valley, used with Dior’s first perfume, Diorissimo, in 1948, and later sprayed generously on the pearl grey fitted carpet in the days of Dior’s many presentations.
Dior is Dior: A Splendid Atelier
The object of both praise and invective, Dior had, by now, become Dior: a splendid atelier with a staff of 85 workers. He could change his style, and he did, naming many lines after letters of the alphabet, such as the H, A, and Y lines. He was able to revive the artisanal skills of the “petites mains,” and could amaze people with hard-to-figure-out technical devices which could make the cut of a garment crushproof.
When Dior was awarded with the recognition of Neiman Marcus, received in America, the designer adjusted his approach to appeal to a more dynamic post-war woman. He lifted the skirts at the back (in 1948), cut soft jackets, and presented tapered skirts (in 1949), making them shorter the following year, matching them with sack-shaped jackets with a horseshoe neck. In 1954 the silhouette became softer, waists were no longer squeezed in an H-line, and a love-hate relationship with the sack dress was about to begin.
In 1955 came the A line and the Y line, with the dominating motifs the large V necks and dresses matched with immense stoles. In that same year his pursuit of the caftan had a marked effect on fashion, with a delicate high-waist dress in chiffon and a sheath dress as tight as a corset. From perfumes to prêt-à-porter, from accessories to underwear, with licenses and new boutiques in Latin America and Cuba, Dior seemed to want to put every possible avenue of distribution under his own name in order to guarantee its long life.
He launched stiletto heels and excelled in the attention given to accessories such as hats, gloves, and jewellery.
New designer: Yves Saint Laurent
In 1957, the maison presented Dior’s last Collection, a variation on the theme of the vareuse, a kind of blouse with buttoned flap pockets that falls loosely at the sides and is often worn with a khaki bush jacket. Christian Dior passed away in the Summer of 1957 in Montecatini. He became an immortal, and one of the most admired haute couture empires in the world became a legend.
The 1958 Collection would be designed by Yves Saint-Laurent, who three years before had become Dior’s assistant and heir. The Collection was called Trapezium and it was a triumph. Called for military service in 1960, Saint-Laurent would, on his return, create his own atelier, as his place at Dior had been taken by Marc Bohan, someone who, over thirty years, would express the spirit of the founder in a measured and creatively elegant way.
New Leadership: Bernard Arnault
In 1988, a big retrospective at the Pavillon Marsan in the Musée des Arts de la Mode at the Louvre celebrated Dior and the new leadership of Bernard Arnault, the wizard of the luxury goods business. In that same year, the maison opened its first boutique in New York, as the number one French company in the U.S. did not yet have a point-of-sale in the Big Apple. The following year, Marc Bohan left. Then the Italian Gianfranco Ferré arrived.
In four annual collections of high fashion and prêt-à-porter, some of which were memorable, starting with revived images of early Dior and gradually emphasizing a timeless luxury that was daring and magic in its opulence. He developed a range of creativity suitable to both the present day and to the prestige of an illustrious maison, marked by the perfumes Dune and Dolce Vita. In more recent times, after Ferré’s return to Italy, the impeccable beauty typical of the griffe wasn’t always apparent in the Collections of John Galliano, who joined Dior as Creative Director in 1996, which were more prone to irony and excess than to the voluptuous grace of Dior’s perfection. Also, later in July 2000 the 32 year old French-Tunisian designer Hedi Slimane takes over the men’s prêt-à-porter from Patrick Lavoix.
By January 2002 Dior renews Sàfilo’s license to produce and distribute the eyeglass Collection manufactured by them since 1996 and which, in the following year, will also have a men’s line. The year 2001 closes with a deficit. Christian Dior SA Holding, owned 65% by Bernard Arnault, shows a loss of €95 million, on a 6% increase in sales, with revenues of €12.567 billion. The loss is attributed to reorganization costs of the retail operations and to investments needed to reorganize the U.S. business after September 11th. In 2000, the profit was €251 million.
In April 2002 Dior opens a shop in Rome, in one of the most evocative places in the city, the corner of via Condotti overlooking Piazza di Spagna. A small space is reserved for the jewellery designer Victoire de Castellane. Later, in June Hedi Slimane is nominated best designer of the year. The prize is given by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. By the end of 2002, the company shows a net profit of €178 million, against a loss of €95 million in 2001. The operating profit has increased 31%.
In March 2003 Vincenzo Moccia, 43, becomes director of Dior Italy, after having been director of Bulgari Italy and of Gucci for northern Italy. The Italian market has contributed a turnover of €492 million (an increase of 41%) and an operating profit of €33 million to Dior.
In Paris, the Dior woman surprises once again and is dressed in latex from head to toe. Galliano has designed the 2004 prêt-à-porter Collection for his usual crazy, sexy, and exaggerated woman, half geisha and half clown, part Japanese and part Chinese. There are skirts and miniskirts in feathered tulle, filmy and billowing, worn with long jackets; latex skirts that look like a second skin but are decorated with a thousand flowers; blouses that are tight on the hips, similar to mini-dresses and draped like a peplum, with bat-like sleeves; very tight trousers with laces that reach the waist; clouds of silk and chiffon; high heels; platform shoes 8 inches high with ankle laces and very thin strings sparkling with studs; colored fur coats; fake flower-patterned kimonos; and important and over-the-top op-art dresses with women covered up to the nose by a latex muzzle.
Later in April, Sidney Toledano, the president of Christian Dior SA announced that 15 new boutiques will be opened worldwide in addition to the current 145. In 2002 there were 23 new boutiques, and in 2003 there were 15, part of 200 planned within 2007. In Paris, where there already are 15, a new mega-store is opened on Rue Royale.
100 Year Celebration of Christian Dior’s Birth
2005 marks the centennial celebration of Christian Dior’s birth. To celebrate the anniversary, the French Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, opens the exhibit “L’Homme du Siècle” in Granville, in Dior’s childhood home, which is now a museum, Les Rumbs. The celebrations continue in Paris, during Fashion Week, with a show that covers Dior’s entire life, with history, the theater, his mother in an Edwardian-style dress, the little boy Christian in a sailor’s suit, and so on, until his success with the divas who visited his atelier. The show is “played” by today’s top models, and mentions his passion for dancing and Peru. Later in 2007, Hedi Slimane left the fashion house and Kris Van Assche replaced her as artistic director.
In april 2008 Sidney Toledano, president and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, announces the nomination of, Delphine Arnault Gancia, as general Vice Director of Christian Dior Couture. This year is characterized by the crisis that affected the entire world, but Sidney Toledano and John Galliano remain successful in having very high revenues, mostly due to the American market. They declare that accessories, woman’s ready-to-wear and Haute Couture increased the business. In 2008, Christian Dior Group records €8.2 billions of sales, gaining 11% compared to the previous year and a net income of €352 millions. All this is mostly due to the emergent markets China, Russia and Middle East.
In 2009, Dior launches the new advertising campaign for the Lady Dior bag, with the french actress Marion Cotillard as testimonial. Camille Miceli, nominated artistic director of costume jewellery and artistic advisor, enters the group and in this period, after nine years, the high jewellery and watches shop reopen in the french capital.
In 2010, Christian Dior and Safilo Group announces that their license agreement for design, world wide production and distribution of the Dior eyewear and sunglasses collection has been extended to december 31 2017. This year, the revenues amounts to €21.1 billion with an increase of 19% compared to 2009, due to the good performances in Europe, Asia and Usa. On these bases, Christian Dior announces the project of opening and renewal of boutiques on high potential markets.
John Galliano Fired
In 2011 after being house’s creative director for 15 years, John Galliano was fired by Dior because of making antisemitic and racist insults in a drunken rant. His Autumn/Winter 2011 fashion show went on during Paris Fashion Week without him. Also, during this period Pushkin museum of Moscow praises the maison Dior with the exhibition with the title of “Inspiration Dior”. The exhibition tells the story of the maison through the works of art that have inspired monsieur Christian Dior.
Later in 2012, Raf Simons was pointed as chief creative director. The Belgian designer, aged 44, will be responsible of the women Haute Couture collections, ready-to-wear and accessories. The french fashion house declares that Simons will project the style of the maison towards the 21°century, creating a real change. Shortly after the announcement of Raf Simons entry, his first collection of Haute Couture is presented in Paris. It was a collection in the tradition of the maison, revisited in a modern and architectural key, with his minimalist style and very far from the style of Galliano. The designer astounds with one of the best collections of the brand. A real selection of ideas from a designer with a rare gift: the ability of mixing modernity with history.
In 2012, Dior launch its first online magazine, called Diormag. The news on the website are updated daily with informations regarding the global activities of the griffe. After one year waiting, on april 9 2012 the Raf Simons era starts, as he is nominated the new artistic director of the maison. In 2013, maison Dior engages the actress Jennifer Laurence as testimonial of the advertising campaign for Miss Dior bag, with $20 million contract for three years.
After one year from Raf Simons entry in the french maison, Christian DiorCouture reveals that profits have increased of 31%, while incomes have grown of 14%. Such results are also due to the influence of Kris Van Assche, creative director of menswear department. In the meanwhile, Delphine Arnault Gancia, daughter of Bernard Arnault, head of LVMH group, announces her decision to give up her collaboration with the maison Dior to work exclusively for Louis Vuitton.
During an interview in 2014, Sidney Toledano confirms that their success came from the very high quality of their production, exalting Made in Italy and promoting productive firms also in Veneto and in Tuscany. Besides, he declares that the maison produces in Italy because it is one of the few countries where it is mantained a beautiful craftmanship, due to the familiar tradition. He had already told Arnault that Lady Dior bag could be made only in Florence in the ’90s.
In 2015, Raf Simons decides to engage pop star Rihanna as testimonial for the “Secret Garden” campaign. It is a big step forward, as in seventy years of the brand history she is the first black woman. Serge Brunschwig, Dior Chief operating officer up till now, achieves the role of Dior Homme division president. In the same year, Dior together with Chanel and Louis Vuitton are in the lead of the ranking made by Brandwatch considering the best and the more influential brands on social media.
Maria Grazia Chiuri
After 3 years, on October 2015, Raf Simons has decided not to renew his contract and to leave Dior for personal reasons. The inside team of the french griffe is asked to design the spring\summer 2016 couture collection and the fall\winter 2016-2017 ready-to-wear collection. Because of the exit of Raf Simons, the revenues show a slight slowdown in the second semester of the exercise, with €961 million in sales.
In july 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri became the first female creative director at Dior in its 70 years of history. A woman with a long career in fashion, first for Fendi and then for Valentino, always close to Pierpaolo Piccioli. M.G. Chiuri is the first woman to take the reins of the brand: to date there have been only man like Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferrè, John Galliano and Raf Simons. The appointment of an Italian woman confirms the renewal of the made in Italy creativity.
In 2016, Dior flies to Melbourne to celebrate seventy years of the maison. The work of the french couturier is the protagonist of a retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria.
On December 31 2016, Safilo and Dior renewed their agreement till 2020 for the design, production and distribution of the eyewear and sunglasses collections. Furthermore, this period is characterized by the exploit of Alessandro Micheli slippers and the T-shirts with revolutionary and feminist slogans by Maria grazia Chiuri.
2017 marks the 70th anniversary for Dior, the French fashion house celebrated its anniversary with exhibition called “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams”. The exhibition took place in Musée des Arts Décoratifs in paris, where more than 300 breathtaking gowns from across decades were displayed.
Also, Baby Dior arrives on Instagram. Dior is one of the few brands to have created an account dedicated exclusively to childrens wear. Also, Natalie Portman has become the testimonial for the Miss Dior fragrance, producing several beautiful floral campaigns. She is invited to the south of France to the harvest the Rose de Grasse, a rare and precious flower at the heart of the Miss Dior fragrance.
Dior Homme is on the point of entering the Rinascente Duomo, Milano, after the closing up of via Montenapoleone store due to unsatisfactory sales.
Paul Smith (1946) is an English tailor and designer. The first thing he sold was a pocket handkerchief with the British flag. Today, in the stores, everything is from robots to ties. He is always unconventional. It has transformed the tailoring into an explosion of colors, inventions, fashion trends combined with the oldest quality of fabrics. He still has the spirit of a twenty-something, cutting-edge designer, which is why he continues to ride the crest of the wave.
His clothes are like his personality: amusing and serious at the same time, eccentric but wearable. He opened a multi-brand shop in Nottingham in 1970, and nine years later opened his first proper shop, revolutionizing the concept of selling space, which from then on was no longer just the space used for the display of goods, but a meeting point for anyone interested in style.
His first menswear fashion show was in 1976 in Paris. From that point on the label has grown from strength to strength. The brand’s reputation has never ceased to grow. He has also been asked to be a consultant to the Prime Minister Tony Blair.
You Can Find Inspiration in Everything (and if you cannot, look again!)
In February 2001, Paul Smith joined The Queen on the Birthday Honors List, an acknowledgment of his contribution to British fashion. Later, in November he published You can get inspiration from anything (and if you cannot, look again!). It is not a fashion monograph, nor a clothing catalog, but a collection of images where the author is portrayed in the most diverse situations. The volume, 288 pages, was edited by Alan Aboud who has co-authored the author as an art director for more than ten years. The project was also signed by Jonathan Ive (iMac designer). At the same time, he opened a shop in London at the Royal Exchange.
Paul Smith in Milan
In March 2002, Paul Smith opened his first single store in Italy, via Manzoni in Milan. The project is by Sophie Hicks. Then, the first men’s shoe store was opened in Paris. The following month, in collaboration with Cappellini, the Mondo furniture collection will be launched during the Milan Furniture Show.
During the same period, the designer organized Great Brits, an exhibition that pays homage to the greatest British designers. The exhibition was held in his own studio in Milan at Viale Umbria 95. The designer chose four young names: D. Mathias Bengtsson, Tord Boontje, Daniel Brown, and Sam Buxton.
In 2003, after the enormous success achieved with the first collaboration, Reebok commissioned the designer to create a new collection of 80’s men-women shoes, named after Paul Smith, Reebok 2. The materials are mainly orange and blue nylon and real red and blue leather. Exclusively worldwide, only in the stores of Paul Smith (around 250 worldwide) you can buy the first book written by David Bowie at the “modest” sum of £ 295, Moonage Daydream: the truth behind Ziggy. Each of the 2500 numbered copies is autographed.
Boutiques and Iconic Stripes
In February 2005 he opened his first shop for the Pink line in the Daikanyama district of Tokyo. The flagship store measures 120 square meters and is entirely for womenswear and accessories. It is called Paul Smith Pink+. Then, in March he released the Black collection, following an earlier Blue version, the second official women’s line to be found in department stores such as Harvey Nichols, Harrods, and Selfridges.
Paul Smith boutiques are known for a distinguished playful design. Every boutique is designed and decorated differently, but all are full of color and character, mirroring his personality. This concept reflects his unconventional design.
In 2006, with the intention of using it only for a season, the stylist launches the iconic signature of Paul Smith Stripes. There are not many styles that can be worn either by a two year old girl, or a 35-year-old man. The stripes are perhaps the only candidate. The rows have the power to make a highly distinguishable surface, which, speaking of clothes, explains why they have never been kept in great care.
The Recent Year’s
In 2009 Paul Smith made a collection of bike clothes in association with Rapha. In this period, he opened stores in Dubai, Bangalore, Leeds, Antwerp, Los Angeles, and London.
In mid-November 2013 the company celebrated their 40th anniversary in the fashion world at the London Design Museum with the exhibition Hello, My Name is Paul Smith. The goal is to explore all aspects of the designer’s career, including future development. Accurate reproduction of Paul Smith’s studio, as well as an immersive installation, reveal some of his inspirations. The exhibition is a real journey through its collections, a day in the life of a parade and collaborations with other brands.
In 2017, in Florence, Paul Smith lit a fluorescent light in his youth line, PS by Paul Smith, and re-launched with a focus on basic clothes. The designer argues that the cornerstone of his business is the basis:
“Well done, of good quality, simple cut, made with special fabrics and easy to wear.”
Paul Smith has not presented his collection to Pitti Man for 23 years, but has considered Pitti Uomo 91 the right occasion to present his new collection. The latter translates his attitudes towards classic and bizarre in terms related to the new generations.
In 1835, at the age of fourteen, Louis Vuitton left Anchay, his native village in the Jura Mountains of eastern France, close to the Swiss border. He undertook this long journey by foot, ending up in Paris two years later. Upon his arrival, he was hired as a box maker/packer by Romain Maréchal. This work was based on manufacturing boxes and crates used to pack everyday objects and large wardrobes.
First Boutique in Paris
In 1854 he opened his first leather goods store on rue Neuve-des-Capucines, Paris. He offered very light trunks in poplar wood and baggage more suitable for the new means of transport. Then, he began to attract the admiration of fashionable people. His designs were ergonomic, made for strength, and lightness. His perfection of the flat trunk is now considered the beginning of modern luggage.
Beginning in 1859, the Asnières site, both a family residence and atelier of the company, is born. Still today, Asnières is a symbol of the Vuitton family’s personal and commercial success.
His skill is noted by Empress Eugenia of Montijo, who calls him to make his luggage. This experience helped him to understand that the old luggage used during the time of horse and bugee, with a curved form cover, had become useless obsolete. So, they decided on a modern type of luggage, which could be used in the trains, the new way of transport
Son Georges & Grandson Gaston
Louis Vuitton continuously innovates fabrics and patterns to protect the products from counterfeiting. In 1875, the creation of the first vertical wardrobe trunk, with each part being thoughtfully designed, guaranteed the success of a company already specializing in travel.
In 1886, Georges Vuitton, created the tumbler lock, an ingenious closing system. A major invention that allowed the same customer to open each piece of luggage with a single key. Later, in 1888, the Damier Canvas pattern is introduced and trademarked. Tragically, in 1892, Louis Vuitton sadly passes away and his son Georges officially takes over the company, along with his grandson Gaston-Louis.
The Monogram Canvas is Born
In 1896, the birth of the famous Monogram canvas. Louis Vuitton’s son, Georges, created the “Monogram”, a small piece of cloth printed with the initials LV that guaranteed the originality of the product. Also, he patented waxed cloth bags, like the “steamer bag.” Louis Vuitton’s grandson, Gatson, began to collect travel items and old luggage dating back to the 16th century. These pieces are now part of the collections at Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris.
Members of the aristocracy and royalty never traveled without their own special Louis Vuitton trunks and cases, for example, the Prince of Egypt Youssouf Kemal, and the Sultan Ismaïl Pacha.
For Luigi Barzini and Scipione Borghese who, in 1907, organized the Beijing-Paris car race, the maison designed rainproof cases. The trunk of the explorer Savorgnan de Brazza could even contain a camp bed, and the one made for the opera singer Lily Pons could hold 36 pairs of shoes. The trunk designed for the orchestra conductor Léopold Stokowski contained a little desk with a small table and shelves for books and music.
In 1914 Georges Vuitton unveiled a shop along the Champs Élysées in an Art Nouveau palace that became the symbolic store of the maison. Through this time the brand grew into pure luxury and in 1983 Louis Vuitton became partner of the America’s Cup: the first edition of the Louis Vuitton Cup was born.
Louis Vuitton Merges with Moët-Hennessy
Since 1959, the company’s production has expanded to include a line of bags, small leather goods, and accessories. In 1987 the company Louis Vuitton merged with Moët-Hennessy to become the colossal multinational company LVMH. Its first important acquirement came the following year: The Maison Givenchy. Bernard Arnault, in 1989, became president and starting in 1993, LVMH started acquiring diverse fashion houses Christian Lacroix, Emilio Pucci, Kenzo, Fendi, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Bulgari and Loro Piana.
In 1997 the artistic director of the brand became Marc Jacobs, who launched in his first year the first prêt-à-porter apparel line. In the same year, the company launched a “City Guide” line of luxury travel guides in the major cities of the world; Berlin, Athens, London, Moscow, Rome and Paris.
The following year, the men’s line was introduced. Marc Jacobs work consisted in revitalizing the brand, instilling an aspect of fashion that was new. Fundamental steps in this direction were the collaborations with artists like Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami that reworked the classic LV logo redecorating it with glaring modifications. Thanks as well to the advertising campaigns that used celebrities like Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, the brand was able to become an inspiration in the eyes of a public ranging from 20 to 70 years old.
Louis Vuitton City Guides
Megastores were opened in London, New York and in 2000 a flagship store in Hong Kong. In 2002 Louis Vuttion registered a turnover of €4,194 million and operating results of €1,297 millions. All markets grew: Europe (+8%), USA (+12%), Japan (+15%). At the end of the year there were 299 own-brand shops. Of these, 7 were new: 1 each in Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka, Moscow, Amsterdam, Macao, and Germany, the restyled and reorganized stores numbered about 30.
In December 2002 Yves Carcelle became the president of Louis Vuitton. By 2003, the company sold goods in 50 countries exclusively through more than 300 boutiques of its own property. By April, Louis Vuitton opened its first shop in New Delhi, India. Later, in September 2004, the Shanghai store, the largest store in the Asia-Pacific area, was restyled. Louis Vuitton had 13 shops in China. At this point, Louis Vuitton was arriving in South Africa and India. Serge Brunschwig, head of South-East Asia sector says,
“The future markets are India and South Africa. We are preparing big marketing operations and the opening of stores. In this way we create an emotional impact and start to introduce the Louis Vuitton universe into the luxury niches of new consumer markets.”
Overall, the brand has 335 own-brand, own- property stores all over the world. “To mark the company’s 150 years, we have accelerated the expansion project with 21 new openings, from the New York Building on the Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, to Osaka and Shanghai.”
New Collections & Campaigns
In the 2005 campaign, the actress Uma Thurman became Louis Vuitton’s new testimonial. Later, in July, the diversification process of the French brand continued. After a line of jewelry was launched, Louis Vuitton eyewear (sunglasses) made their appearance. Zeiss is the chosen partner to produce high protection lenses.
Louis Vuitton launched new icon purses including one in Nomad Leather, a Monogram Mini Lin line, Damier Azur line, along with the new edition of the icon locks in 2006. The company published a book ‘Louis Vuitton, Icons’ by Edition Assouline. Also, new openings occurred with the Louis Vuitton House in Manhattan and Taiwan.
In 2007 The exhibition, Takashi Murakam, occurred along with a temporary opening of the Louis Vuitton boutique in a museum. This year also marked an iconic collaboration of Marc Jacobs and Richard Prince. The ‘Ultimate Travel Bag’ was created, and the Core Values Advertisement Campaign with Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Catherine Deneuve, and Mikhail Gorbachev debuted. This year also saw the opening of the first store in Cyprus, Greece.
In 2008 The Damier collection launched a new Graphite Damier line. Also, the company celebrates the 10th anniversary of the City Guides collection. Sofia Coppola is honored with a collection under her name that is launched in Tokyo. Stephen Sprouse in New York is celebrated with a tribute in his honor. In Auckland, New Zealand, the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series takes place. Another inauguration for the Takashi Murakami exhibition of Guggenheim Bilbao is admired.
Faithful to its heritage, Louis Vuitton has opened its doors to architects, artists and designers across the years. Also while developing disciplines such as ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories, watches, jewelry and stationery. These carefully created products are testament to the company’s commitment to fine craftsmanship.
The success of the Louis Vuitton label is based on grand French style, which recognizes the beauty of an object in its function and mobility. Louis Vuitton has brought unique designs to the world, combining innovation with style, always aiming for the finest quality.
The commercial policy is based on exclusivity, especially to combat against the rising attempts at falsification. For this reason, the fashion house’s products can only be acquired in their single brand stores or online at their official website www.louisvuitton.com. The brand’s attention isn’t limited just to the fashion system: interested in new trends, Louis Vuitton run a cultural space at 101 Champs Élysées where young artists were left to propose and promote their art. Nowadays, this space is not open anymore.
In 2010 Louis Vuitton published the book 100 Malles de Légende, a work that traces the story of the maison through a photographic support of more than 800 shots.
In February 2011, the first app of Louis Vuitton was launched, following the collaboration of the brand with Apple. “Look at the world through the eyes of Louis Vuitton”, the brand’s motto that they presented to refined travelers from every corner of the world. Vuitton’s success was unstoppable. Also, their campaign, “City Guide,” the line of luxury travel guides, updated a 2011 edition with new and unexpected cities like Porto Cervo, Beirut, Courchevel, Gstaad, Oxford, Palma de Mallorca and Thessaloniki.
2014 is another turning point, when Marc Jacobs, the creative director of the maison, is replaced by Nicolas Ghesquière, the French fashion designer discovered in 1997 by Balenciaga.
Louis Vuitton, in 2016 has an estimated $ 20 billion value, and is at number 19 of Forbes’ list of the 100 most prestigious brands in the world.
Today, the Maison remains faithful to the spirit of its founder, Louis Vuitton, who invented a genuine “Art of Travel” through luggage, bags and accessories which were as creative as they were elegant and practical. Since then, audacity has shaped the story of Louis Vuitton.
Currently, Nicolas Ghesquière remains the Creative Director of Women’s Collections.
Christian Louboutin, French shoe designer, was born in Paris on January 7th, 1963. His iconic element is the high-end stiletto, with the red sole. At the age of 12 his true fascination with shoes began when he visited the Musée National des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie. There he saw a sign forbidding women wearing sharp stilettos from entering a building, for fear of damage to the wood flooring. This image inspired his work.
Christian expresses, “I wanted to create something that broke rules and made women feel confident and empowered.”
He studied drawing and decorative arts at the Académie d’Art Roederer. In his teens he left for Egypt, and spent a year in India, then in 1981 he went back to Paris. There he created a portfolio full of his extravagant high heel drawings and sent it to the top fashion houses. Indeed this was a success, and he was hired by Charles Jourdan, one of the most respected shoemakers in Paris. Through his work with Jourdan, he met Roger Vivier, who claimed to have invented the stiletto, and they started a long and meaningful collaboration. Also, he freelanced for Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
In the late 80’s he left fashion, became a landscape gardener, and contributed to Vogue Paris. This only lasted a few years before he started to miss working with shoes, and decided to launch his company in 1991. His first collection was presented in 1991, then in 1992 he opened a boutique on Rue Rousseau in Paris.
Princess Caroline of Monaco was his first customer. She complemented the store when a journalist was present. He then published her comment and this helped Louboutin gain recognition. After this, clients such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Cher, and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy soon followed.
Louboutin’s signature is the red sole, first created in 1993. He claimed he was trying to liven up the design of his shoes, when he “spontaneously grabbed his assistants red nail polish and started painting the sole red.” He exclaimed, “I instantly knew that it would be a success.”
Through the 90’s and 2000’s Louboutin brought back the popularity of the stiletto, and in 1998 he received the Fashion Footwear Association of New York Award for the best shoe designer of the year.
In 2003 he extended outside of shoes and launched his first collection of handbags. Then, in 2011 he launched his first men’s line.
Since the brand’s launch, Christian Louboutin’s creations have been immortalized in museums, on fashion week runways, red carpets, and in pop culture around the world.
A woman’s natural beauty has always been at the center of the designer’s inspiration.
2014 welcomed the launch of Christian Louboutin Beauté with its first nail polish, Rouge Louboutin, accompanied by a full range of Noirs, Nudes and Pop colors. Furthermore the brand’s highly anticipated ‘second chapter’ of beauty, lipstick, launched in September 2015, followed by three signature Christian Louboutin fragrances in September 2016 and a striking collection of eye amplifiers, Les Yeux Noirs, in March 2017.
Current Situation of Louboutin
With a prolific collection of women’s and men’s shoes, day and evening handbags, and small leather goods Christian Louboutin now counts more than one hundred boutiques around the world. Also, there are several locations dedicated to men’s and a one-of-a-kind beauty boutique located in the heart of Paris’ 1st arrondisment, just two doors away from 19 Jean-Jacques Rousseau.