Celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of the founder of his eponymous luxury house, novelist Caroline Bongrand takes us on a journey of the illustrious life of Louis Vuitton. Through her novel, Louis Vuitton, L’Audacieux, published by Éditions Gallimard, Bongrand recounts the story of a young 14-year-old boy, who leaves home without a penny to his name, and ends up in Paris to eventually set up his trunkmaking business in 1854.
The twists and turns that follow his expedition, through the mountains of Jura to the dazzling city of Paris is a riveting experience, and one that Bongrand deeply resonated with. We chat with the esteemed author as she shares more about the fascinating process of researching and writing Louis Vuitton’s legendary story.
Tell us about your connection with Louis Vuitton.
My connection to Louis Vuitton starts with my mother. She was a very elegant French woman, who always carried a Louis Vuitton vanity case when she travelled. As a little girl, I was always drawn into elements the vanity case—the shape of it, the locking mechanism, all the secrets it held.
Until eight years ago, I just knew Louis Vuitton as the founder of the brand, that he existed once upon a time and nothing more. Then, I had the pleasure of learning about the founder’s childhood from friends I knew at the brand. It was a fairy-tale—with over-the-top characters, encountering a very special time of history and embarking on journey of a lifetime.
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What lead you to work with Louis Vuitton on this fictionalised account of his life?
My first and foremost desire was to share a story that I was personally impressed by. The story of a young boy who becomes a man of many talents; how his will power, courage, vision, and determination led him down a remarkable journey. He encountered various challenges and witnessed historical time posts of the nineteenth century—the cradle of our modernity—where invention and innovation were part and parcel of the times.