Virtually no name has ever been more synonymous with luxury: For the last six years, from 2006 to 2012, Louis Vuitton has been designated the world’s most valuable luxury brand. But did you know its roots, which date all the way back to1854, are humble ones? French businessman Louis Vuitton (yes, there actually was a Louis Vuitton!) was born in 1821 in Jura, a rural town in eastern France, and moved to Paris at 15.
Legend has it he walked the 250 miles from Jura to Paris, doing odd apprentice jobs at prominent households along the way to pay for the journey. On one of those jobs, he helped a trunk maker—a stint that changed the course of his life and the fashion industry. So proficient in trunk making did Vuitton become that before he had turned 30, French Emperor Napoleon III hired him to make trunks for his wife, Eugénie de Montijo. Famous for their quality—even today, the bags are handmade—the Vuitton bags, like this patent leather, wine-colored beauty, remain iconic. $3,350.
Louis Vuitton, Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Boulevard, Aventura; 305-931-3887; louisvuitton.com.