In the world of fashion there are some names, and some designs, which carve out a place in our culture such that even the least fashion-conscious person is aware of them. Owning one of these fashion icons becomes about far more than buying an object: it’s a connection with the popular culture of the last hundred years. The history of these enduring fashion trends is a history of the people and events who have shaped the way we think about ourselves.
The Louis Vuitton Bag
Between 2006 and 2012, Louis Vuitton was named as the most valuable fashion brand in the world and yet this vast empire grew from very humble origins. In 1854 the 16-year-old Louis Vuitton hit upon the idea of producing travel trunks, which could be stacked. This was an age when the wealthy were experiencing the first opportunity to explore the world by boat and train and Vuitton’s luggage became the most desirable travel accessory on the market. What we would recognise as the first handbag was produced in 1896. The Monogram bag, with its iconic print, LV logo, quatrefoils and oriental designs, popular at that time in France, bears all the classic features of a Vuitton bag. The Keepall Speedy, of 1930, was a smaller version of the Keepall holdall and was the first LV handbag designed for regular use. Since then the iconic designs have continued to emerge from the fashion house, culminating in 2014 in the Petit Malle, a delightful clutch bag in the style of the original trunks.
Ray Ban Wayfarer’s
Everyone looks good in Wayfarer’s. Their distinctive trapezoidal frame was created in the 1950’s and was beloved by the Beat generation for their rebellious image. Fashions come and fashions go, but partly thanks to skilful product placement in the eighties, and the customizability of Wayfarer’s in this decade, the sunglasses have remained popular with celebrities and the public alike.
If there were one item of clothing that sums up the counterculture of the fifties and sixties it would be Levi’s jeans. This is an item of clothing that inspires devotion, and enthusiasts would accept no substitute. When Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss arrived in San Francisco during the gold rush of the 1850’s, he noticed that miners needed hardwearing trousers. Making his trousers first from tent canvas and then from denim he added copper rivets for additional strength. Worn by everyone from Marlon Brando to Albert Einstein, Levi’s continue to be the most famous jeans in the world.
Burberry Trench Coat
Taking its name from the trenches of the First World War, the trench coat was designed in 1912 by Thomas Burberry for British Army officers. Everything about its design reflects its military origins: the epaulettes signify the rank of officer, the storm shield at the back is designed to run water off and the pleat allows for easy movement when horse riding. Burberry also invented gabardine, the material from which the coat is made. The refined, classic elegance of the design remains popular with both men and women to this day.