The Unpickable Lock, Louis Vuitton’s Signature

HISTORY OF AN ICON - Sep 03rd 2017


Louis Vuitton’s creations each have one special feature as noble as it is innovative: an unpickable lock with a unique matching key.

The Unpickable Lock, Louis Vuitton’s Signature

Louis Vuitton is an iconic logo made of an inspired and inspiring Monogram, epi leather, unequalled trunk making, but also an unpickable lock. The destiny of the most emblematic trunkmaker in history is so intrinsically linked to travel that it’s no wonder they’re concerned with practicality, security, and elegance. 1854: Louis Vuitton founds his eponymous brand as a trunkmaker in Paris - soon, he would revolutionize the art of traveling. The founder was attached to changing all of the less practical aspects of luggage in those days. First came the shape of the trunks, then the issue of security. Louis concentrated on a project: helping the closing system of trunks evolve to make them impenetrable and inimitable. He worked with different types of locks, going from one supplier to the next, always seeking a more ingenious system and the best way to counter the new problems of the era. In 1896, after years of research, he arrived at a breakthrough… In an era where travelers transported all of their personal effects in wardrobes and trunks that would attract envy and, unfortunately thieves as well, this trunkmaker dared to create the only lock that was supposedly unpickable.

This was no accident. The creation of the unpickable lock is due to a subtle balance of tradition and innovation, enlightened dreams and down-to-earth pragmatism. With one lone key for one lone bag, the public still had to be convinced of the truthfulness of Louis Vuitton’s claims. Georges, his son, would would take on Harry Houdini: the dare was to get out of a box closed with a Louis Vuitton lock. With an onlooking crowd, Houdini wasn’t able to escape, and the lock’s efficiency was proved. The trunkmaker thus issued a response to the new demands of the day. The cover’s lock was ensured through a three-point system that would secure the trunk. Numbered and stocked, the keys were linked to the individual client who would receive a unique lock number. Today of course, Louis Vuitton produces more bags than trunks, but the lock is still the brand’s signature. Since 1901, it’s adorned every bag as well.

Take the Keepall, for example; the bag for the most intrepid of travelers. One of the brand’s most iconic objects, the Keepall is a supple travel bag that’s a favorite of long-haul travelers. A padlock seals Louis Vuitton’s quality and authenticity. Ceaselessly reinvented, ceaselessly interpreted by a number of contemporary artists like Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, the piece has lost nothing of its relevance. But it’s another piece that’s put the unpickable lock in (almost) everyone’s hands - a smaller-size travel bag, ideal for daily outings. In the 60s, Audrey Hepburn would fall for the Speedy and thus contribute to its popularity. But the actress wanted the brand to imagine an even smaller size. The Speedy 25 was born, and a padlock appeared on every style,  even men’s, for Spring/Summer 2018. In 2013, the French brand would turn its label into a sign of love - Louis Vuitton’s iconic padlock became the centerpiece of a collection of rings, bracelets, and pendants made of yellow, rose, and grey gold called Lock-It.

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