Bon voyage et bon retour

Louis Vuitton died on February 27, 1892, one hundred and twenty years ago, but his eponymous company is still alive and well. In fact, sales of the fine quality luggage firm regularly top 2 billion a year. He was appointed to be the malletier, or trunk maker, to Empress Eugenie (wife of Napoleon III) when he was still an apprentice. As the Imperial family traveled extensively, Vuitton soon learned how to perfect luggage and he began to design his own line.

In the courtyard of the Asnières workshops, ar...

In the courtyard of the Asnières workshops, around 1888, Louis, Georges and Gaston L. Vuitton (sitting on a Bed trunk) © LOUIS VUITTON ARCHIVES (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of his innovations was making his trunks with flat tops so they could be stacked. It seems self-evident, but prior to this, luggage all had domed tops to allow water to run off.  Since Vuitton’s cases used waterproof canvas, this was no longer necessary. Where he went, all other luggage makers followed. From those earliest cases, duplication of the brand was an issue, and the company took steps to make the logo on the canvas distinctive and legally protected. Today the luggage is still handmade and the canvas bears the same intertwined initials that they copyrighted in the 19th century.

English: Logo of Louis Vuitton

Today’s expression, bon voyage et bon retour, (boh voyaj ay boh ruhtour) literally means “have a good trip and a good return.” We’d probably say “have a good trip and come back safely.” Whether or not you can afford authentic Vuitton luggage, may you always return safely.

Louis Vuitton: Art, Fashion, and Architecture

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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4 Responses to Bon voyage et bon retour

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