Louis Vuitton was born on 4 August 1821 in Anchay, a rural village in the Jura region of Eastern France. His father, Xavier Vuitton, was a farmer, his mother, Coronne Gaillard, a milliner.
At age 13, Vuitton leaves his home in rural France to seek his fortune in Paris. It takes him two years, alone and on foot, to complete his 300 mile journey to the capital.
Vuitton is taken on as an apprentice by a Monsieur Marechal. Marechal is a layetier – a maker of wooden boxes and cases for transporting travellers' possessions. Vuitton rises through the ranks quickly at Marechal’s workshop.
Vuitton is selected as the personal layetier to Empress Eugénie de Montijo, a Spanish Countess and wife of Napoleon III. The experience introduced him to the elite classes of Parisian society.
Louis Vuitton opens his first shop at 4 Rue Neuve de Capucines, Paris. His storefront reads “Louis Vuitton, layetier-emballeur (luggage maker and packer).”
“He asked me to make one for him too, so I did. Then someone who had seen his case contacted me, and I made one for him as well and then gradually more and more people started coming to me with the same request. Whenever I had some free time, I’d be working on these projects a little bit at a time. My research into design and technique was also attained throughout this period. Even though I was using materials that we had in the workshop, there was still a cost involved. I used the same materials that go into making airplane and bullet train parts, so it is really expensive and I couldn’t make a lot at one time. I enjoyed myself, getting this far one week, making up to that point next week. One month I wouldn’t have the money for extra materials, so I’d have to leave it until we received the next order for aircraft parts. It progressed for some time like that.”
Aero Concept is the perfect mix of tradition and technology. The quality of the materials and the incorporation of the same technical expertise use to make airplane and bullet train components, produces a beauty the only comes from a product that has had a high level of skill and attention lavished upon it during its creation. The aircraft industry’s favoured aluminium alloy ‘Duralumin’ is the main material used to make Aero Concept. Light weight, strength, and the ability to be worked with accuracy and precision are proven qualities that are as important in the production of luggage as they are in the construction of aircraft. The leather hide used for Aero Concept products is tanned using only natural vegetable tannins. This produces a particular type of leather that wears and ages beautifully. The natural quality of the leather is illustrated perfectly by the small creases, wrinkles and marks that are present. These, together with slight variations in colour from one hide to another, render each piece one of a kind.
The workshop is full of strange and interesting looking machinery and the air is filled with the intoxicating smell of engineering oil. Computer controlled machines sit side by side with metal bending machines and beautifully maintained lathes from the 1930’s.
For creative work, in the hands of a highly skilled craftsman producing precision metalwork, the latest fully automated machines do not compare with the relics from a bygone era. It takes a great deal of skill and experience to operate the machines that are used to produce the component parts for Aero Concept. Aero Concept combines the industrial aesthetics of precision-crafted airplane fittings with a craftsman’s love for creating just the right object for the task at hand and is the work of a man who is thoroughly devoted to detail. He creates with an enthusiasm and dedication that means his approach is not just, “I am going to try to make this”, it is, “I’m going to make this!”
We are honoured to represent Aero Concept in Europe and a range of his creations are available in the shop and online.
View our collection here