We all have a mental library of brands and logos we can recognize easily, but it’s hard to think of any two letters that capture more than the iconic, interlocking L and V of the Louis Vuitton monogram. For hundreds of years, this signature monogram has set apart the items it marks with a powerful association of quality, luxury, and status. Reinvented and reinterpreted many times over, the Louis Vuitton logo is still one of the most recognized emblems around the world.
Louis Vuitton the person did not actually ever see his initials as the signature print for his creations. As Architectural Digest reports, the design debuted after his death. His son, Georges Vuitton, started marking his family’s trunks with the patented, italicized letters and “quatrefoils and flowers” in 1896.
Fake Louis Vuittons were an issue even then, and, as Kajal Makija writes in her history of the brand, this monogram was an effective means of distinguishing the real, quality items that were already synonymous with luxury protection of travelers’ precious belongings.
The symbols followed the brand as it evolved with people’s needs. What started as a trunk and luggage business soon placed its mark on women’s handbags. Vogue gives a beautiful retrospective through time with photos of “actresses on the go” carrying monogrammed Louis Vuitton classics we still love today.
As Lifestyle Asia details, the evolution of the monogram itself took off under the creative leadership of Marc Jacobs, who took the helm as Louis Vuitton’s Creative Director in 1997—100 years after the monogram was first introduced. Jacobs brought the monogram deeper into handbags—literally—imprinting the letters and floral signatures into the Monogram Vernis and, years later, into Empreinte Leather.
Jacobs went on to partner with artists to reimagine the brand’s signature look. Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti letters were some of the most popular, along with the renovations by Takashi Murakami, who helped to bring this luxury into the eye of a whole new generation with the rainbow monogram.
Other innovations saw the monogram in prints like the charm-inspired editions, and collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama brought her undulating waves of polka dots over the classic canvas.
After 16 years, Marc Jacobs left his Louis Vuitton post and was replaced by Balenciaga’s Nicolas Ghesquière, who literally put a new twist on the tried and true L and V.
Just like the original Louis Vuitton trunk will continue to appear in fresh and exciting ways through this design journey…
…It’s safe to assume that the classic Louis Vuitton monogram will also endure even as new creative partnerships and explorations show up within it and alongside its steady presence.