After revolutionizing the history of luggage by creating the very first flat trunk covered in sturdy, lightweight Trianon grey canvas in 1854, and then launching a canvas with red vertical stripes in 1872, which would be followed four years later by a version composed of a beige monochrome design, in 1888 Louis Vuitton gave birth to the Damier canvas, the fruit of his imagination and that of his son Georges.
With his help, Louis Vuitton finally chose a pattern alternating small brown and beige squares: the Damier canvas was born. It intercrossed the light and dark vertical bands that formed the beige monochrome palette of the canvas covering the Maison’s trunks up to this point.
This new design sealed the Maison’s image, with no room for counterfeiting. Whereas Louis Vuitton had not previously patented his inventions, the motif featured the inscription “Marque L. Vuitton déposée” (“L. Vuitton registered trademark”) for the first time.
This Damier canvas would also be the last creation that history would attribute to Louis Vuitton, the founder. It would be officially presented in 1889 at the World’s Fair in Paris. This marked the beginning of the long story of the iconic Louis Vuitton Damier.
After making way for just under a century for the Monogram canvas, which would singlehandedly fly the Maison’s flag around the world as of 1896, it was only in 1996 that the Damier canvas – over a century old at the time – was rereleased in its original tones and renamed Damier Ebène. It was once again an instant success.
In 2006, the Damier took on a feminine form and became Azur. A range of colours that evokes the glamour of the French Riviera, classic yet contemporary, casual and carefree, reflecting both a new style and a new more feminine feel.
In 2008, the Damier Canvas celebrated its 120th birthday. The Damier Ebène and Damier Azur were joined by a new masculine version: Damier Graphite. Revisited in black and anthracite, the Damier became undeniably urban. Damier Graphite is the first Louis Vuitton line solely dedicated to men. Adorned in smooth black leather and polished palladium hardware, the historic motif adopts an urban look that is stylish, streamlined, modern and cosmopolitan.
125 years after its creation, in 2011 the Damier canvas was revealed in a sophisticated masculine version in supple embossed leather. Initially revealed in flamboyant red, grey and onyx black at the Fall/Winter 2011 menswear show, Damier Infini is being enriched in 2013 with an intense dark brown and a sunshine yellow shade.
In 2012, Louis Vuitton linked it to the world of sailing with the creation of a casual version in sturdy, lightweight nylon – Damier Aventure, and another more technical model in water-resistant nylon for more difficult conditions – Damier Challenge.
The Maison’s iconic signature and a limitless ground for creative expression, the Damier never ceases to offer surprises and reinvent itself. For Spring/Summer 2013, new fluorescent Damier Infini, Damier Ebène with a coloured interior and Damier Challenge models marked the runway show, bringing a new unmistakably fashion-forward direction.
The Damier story continues…
Images via Louis Vuitton / conception et photographie: Lacey@clm, assitant digital: Nicola Scorey, assistants photo: Mike Tinney & Andrew Mackie