Artisan and entrepreneur Louis Vuitton was born on August 4, 1821, in the Jura region of France near Switzerland. He left home at age 14 for Paris, where he apprenticed with a successful box-maker and packer. This craft was respectable and essential in 19th-century Europe, and Vuitton made a name for himself among fashionable Parisians as a maker of boxes (trunks) for garments and fashions. Under the French Empire of Napoleon III in the 1850s, Empress Eugénie hired Vuitton as her personal box-maker and packer. He founded his eponymous company in 1854 and began producing distinctive luggage that could be stacked, differing from trunks with rounded tops (designed for water run-off). It was also stylish, first covered in gray, waterproofed canvas, then in popular brown and beige stripes (pictured), widely imitated by other luggage-makers. Vuitton’s earliest custom trunks were made for storing tennis racquets, hats, silverware, cologne, hairbrushes, wine and even a bed. His son Georges introduced the LV Monogram in 1896.