Design Inspiration at Louis Vuitton

I posted this on Instagram, and then decided that I wanted to write a bit more about it.  This is actually two photos.  The top is an illustration from 1921, and the bottom is a currently for sale wallet from Louis Vuitton.  It is pretty apparent where the LV illustration originated.  In fact, the Louis Vuitton website says that the decoration on the wallet came from a 1921 ad:

Ideal gift, this witty and colorful limited edition, inspired by an historical advertisement from 1921, pays tribute to Louis Vuitton’s travel heritage.

After seeing this design last fall (and thinking how perfect it would be for a vintage traveler…) I had the drawing stuck in my mind.  Louis Vuitton recently had an exhibition showing many old travel bags in vignettes with vintage clothing appropriate for travel back in the days before travel became such a hassle.  I couldn’t make it to Paris to see the exhibition, but I did pull out a fantastic book that shows one hundred LV travel cases, 100 Legendary Trunks, just to get another look at those fine old travel pieces.

And that is where I found the inspiration drawing.  The book was not entirely clear, but I’m pretty sure this was not from an advertisement, but was actually a header for a story on auto travel.  The caption reads:

“Du Voyage en Auto, a P.F. Grignon drawing that appeared in the review Femma in 1921.”

All I could gather from my brief searches what that Grignon was an illustrator, something that could have been assumed anyway.  I am totally unaware of what copyright laws are in France, but in the US, any copyright on the image would have expired.  And I’m pretty sure that a company like Louis Vuitton has a legal department that advises in such matters.  Still, I wish that Louis Vuitton would have identified P.F. Grignon on their website where the wallet is being sold.

I could not help but see the similarities between the Grignon illustration and the one I use for my own blog header.  That illustration also dates to 1921, and is from an advertisement for a defunct car company, Jordan.  I searched the original carefully for a signature, but there is none. Because this illustration predates 1923, the copyright has expired. Prior to 1923, copyright protection of a work expires seventy-five years after the first authorized publication.  Still I wish I could credit the artist who made this lovely work.




Filed under Curiosities

11 responses to “Design Inspiration at Louis Vuitton

  1. As the mother of an artist, I certainly agree with you. Credit where credit is due. I think in this nonstop world of images people don’t spend much time considering that someone had to MAKE (or at least grab) an image for it to appear, even for a moment, on one of our screens. Think about how we revered known graphic designers and illustrators even as recently as 30 years ago — Chwast, Glaser and the other giants. I am disappointed to realize, now that you’ve brought it up, that I don’t know the names of today’s graphic design giants, and maybe that’s because with media so fragmented, there aren’t any? Now that anyone can “design,” who makes the images we see doesn’t seem to matter as much. Or maybe I’m just old.


    • I can’t name one either, but that is not surprising. There is so much great vintage graphic design on the internet, that it really is just so much easier to find an image and adapt to to modern purposes.

      I have been using my header image for at least 8 years, but if someone spotted it on my blog (or in any of the other places across the web that I use it to identify myself) and wanted to use it, there is not a thing I could do to stop them. I do not own the image, and the law in the UK now specifically states that a digital image of an item in the public domain is also in the public domain. The law is in reference to photos on museum websites, but I think it would apply here as well. And I would think also that the US will have such a law in the future. People act as if it is a law anyway.


  2. Nicky Stickland

    Love this post…thank you. Have been meaning to say I have been following you force few months since reading all about you from researching Biba, which is my favourite designer. Love reading about your inspirations and discovering more regarding design.


  3. Interesting blog – as usual Lizzie. Thought provoking.


  4. So many designs today are credited to the company, not the artist (but is that anything new? No). I really appreciate the time you put in to this thinking, it scratches a mental itch for me.


    • No, of course it is not a new problem. I think the internet and the massive amounts of images available has actually made this sort of thing easier to spot. There is a great cat novelty print skirt from the early 60s that got the motif from a Tammis Keefe hankie. Whether or not she actually designed the skirt panels, she is not credited.


  5. Christina

    I have always liked your header image. I know Jordan was an American automobile company but the illustrated scene has a very English countryside feel to it – thatched roofs and farmer’s smock. Either way it is lovely. I read that the Jordan owner was a former advertising executive. There were many illustrators working at that time but it would be great to find out who which artist produced this image.


  6. It’s always interesting seeing where clothing and accessory companies get their inspiration.

    I agree, the original image appears more like a header for a short story in a magazine than an ad.


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