Atelier Icon Series - #2 The Louis Vuitton Speedy

The Icon Series continues and we have chosen an absolute classic for this edition.  It’s a bag that has stood the test of time and it’s one of those bags that is most familiar to us – in fact we wouldn’t be surprised if many handbag collectors started off with this, given its cult status.

We are talking about the Louis Vuitton Speedy.  The world famous Speedy was the very first handbag of the house of Louis Vuitton. The bag has been worn by icons like Audrey Hepburn, who even requested a custom made size which is still popular today.  So let’s dig deep and look at what makes this bag so special... 

Pliable and built like the Keepall, the Speedy was, for a long time, a pure travel accessory designed for personal effects that the traveller wanted to keep to hand in their immediate vicinity. It’s also equipped with a padlock, like all the travel items. Then, from an accessory product, it became a handbag in its own right, retaining its Toron handles in natural cowhide leather and its riveted chapes for solidity ~
Xavier Dixsaut, Director of Innovation at Louis Vuitton 

The word Speedy will trick many into thinking that this bag is a fairly recent addition to the Louis Vuitton collection. Would you be surprised to know that the Speedy was actually Louis Vuitton’s first handbag design back in the 1930s? The Speedy was designed in 1930 as a smaller interpretation of the hugely popular Keepall bag. The bag marked a big turning point in the history of Louis Vuitton, as their very first handbag.  While the Keepall was intended for travel, the Speedy was designed for everyday use.

The original size of the Speedy is 30cm, thought to be the optimum size for practicality AND refinement, and grew into a 35cm and 40cm version.  But when Audrey Hepburn requested for this bag in a smaller size in 1965, the Speedy 25 was born. Over the years the bag has been designed in dozens of different materials, designs and colours, but the classic Boston shape of the bag has remained unchanged.  Making it an instantly recognisable icon in our eyes!  The classic version of the bag consists largely of sturdy canvas with leather handles, which over the years darken to a full patina. The canvas is waterproof, remains scratch-free and does not tear, the perfect material for a ‘heavy duty’ bag.

Throughout the years, the Speedy became a staple, being the first to become available in other materials including Epi leather, Damier canvas and Monogram Empreinte (amongst others).  With such a storied heritage that dates back to the late-19th century, it’s no wonder that Vuitton calls the Speedy one of its icons.

Why do we love it so?

  1. Let’s be honest – a Speedy is an affordable bag! A brand new Speedy 30 retails at £830 and you can pick up bags on the resale market in very good condition for considerably less. We have a selection of Speedy’s to suit different tastes and budgets.
  2. Louis Vuitton made them to last – they are pretty indestructible! They are very well made and, should your bag need some TLC, Louis Vuitton have an in-house service for that.
  3. You have so many options to choose from! Collaborations are constantly being released, meaning that you have a wide range of colours, materials and sizes to choose from. This means that your Speedy can reflect your individual style, and that the bag will always remain a current style and choice for any fashionista!

Louis Vuitton Collector’s Items

The Louis Vuitton Speedy has been part of many Limited Edition collections, which are sought after by die hard Louis Vuitton fans.  Collaborators include Takashi Murakami (with mulitcolour monogram canvas) and Yayoi Kusama as featured in the image in this article.

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist famous for obsessional polka dot patterns and the, now coveted, ‘Infinity Dots Collection’ was launching in 2012.  Monogram leather goods were at the centre of this collection where the repetitive polka dot patterns covered the house monogram creating an abstract and, almost tribal, effect.  The use of bright, primary colours was also key and we just adore our Speedy 30 in bright blue, available to shop at only £1395.