“Our most meaningful project”: A behind-the-scenes look at designing the Doudou Louis
Positively impacting society is the founding mission of the social component of Louis Vuitton’s sustainable development roadmap, “Our Committed Journey.” Since 2016 and through the sales of Silver Lockit bracelets, the Louis Vuitton for UNICEF partnership has raised more than $13 million in proceeds to help children around the world affected by conflict and disaster. Fundraising that has recently been supplemented by sales of four new Silver Lockit bracelets and of a teddy bear, the Doudou Louis.
The project was a challenge, as Catriona explains: “We wanted to live up to the Maison’s commitment to protect at-risk children by designing an object that’s exemplary from an environmental standpoint, as well, which we’ve never done before.”
Catriona, who manages the Gifting Department – which she describes as “a start-up within the Maison” – is nonetheless accustomed to projects that are off the beaten track. “But not one with such a powerful social dimension,” she explains. “In the past, we’ve developed a leather Doudou and other similar products, but for the Louis Vuitton for UNICEF partnership, we wanted to take things to the next level.”
The design process for the object begins in the Maison’s materials library on rue du Pont-Neuf and in a workshop in the Berry province of France. In a constructive and circular creative process, the textile for the teddy bear comes from a previous collection and is a blend of GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)-certified cotton and recycled polyester. To preserve short supply chains and promote local savoir-faire, the teddy bear is made by the experienced hands of craftspeople in an out-of-house workshop. Séverine, the team’s Style Coordinator and Project Manager, talks about this collaboration with enthusiasm: “We were really lucky to find a service provider that was both so highly skilled and so close to us. And since producing this Doudou Louis helped save this workshop from going out of business, we’re all the prouder!” Pride can be seen in Sigrid’s eyes, too, when the subject of Doudou Louis comes up. She’s been a Stylist at Louis Vuitton for twenty years and takes immense pleasure in being part of a project that has a such positive impact: “As we developed the Doudou, I contemplated the broader theme of childhood along with our Louis Vuitton for UNICEF partnership, and they dovetailed into two sources of profound inspiration, which led to this rainbow Monogram pattern that took inspiration from children’s way of drawing.” But everything depends on something beyond a hand: Doudou Louis’s face.
Besides using stuffing with recycled materials precisely weighed to the gram and infinitely meticulous quality control of the visible seams, the key moment in crafting the Doudou Louis was shaping his facial features: “A tiny detail, even a difference of a few millimeters, can completely change his face. So we worked in stages, meticulously and simultaneously adjusting his mouth, his eyes, his nose, until we finally managed to give him a serene and happy expression,” recounts Mathilde, the Product and Merchandising Project Manager. An expression that resembles the one on the face of every member of the team when reflecting on this one-of-a-kind project: “We’re proud to have had a chance to make our own contribution to the Maison’s social and environmental initiatives. Bringing the Doudou Louis to life was our chance to pursue excellence in new areas and be part of a positive story that has nourished all of us. It’s without a doubt our most meaningful project.”