When Francesca Amfitheatrof, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of watches and jewelry, started looking for a muse for her first fine jewelry collection for men, she didn’t choose a pop star, celebrity or influencer.
Instead, she looked to the Vuitton family tree, landing on its lone third-generation heir who eventually took over the brand: Gaston-Louis Vuitton.
Born in 1883, Gaston-Louis Vuitton is known today through his collections of antique books, toys and especially trunks, the company’s initial product, which have been the subject of touring exhibitions and a book. Some are on display in the former family home, a belle epoque villa in Asnières-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris.
Few details are known of his life, but the company said he brought a sense of whimsy to the leather goods maker by, for example, displaying toys and games in its Paris store. Though he never had children, a vintage photograph showing him as a mustachioed senior thumbing his nose at the camera with both hands suggests a childlike sense of humor.
“Gaston’s father and grandfather were these serious businessmen, but he was fun, he was a prankster, he had room to play, and he loved bringing a certain irony to things,” Ms. Amfitheatrof said in a video interview from her studio in New York. “I think that resonates with today’s young consumers. Ultimately, I think we all have a little Gaston in us.”