Louis Vuitton

Remembering the Massively Popular Louis Vuitton Tivoli Bag

Tales of the Tivoli: dearly loved, dearly missed

The Louis Vuitton monogram. 

Much has been said about it, more has been written about it, and many continue to don it on their persons well into the modern day. We’ve seen it printed on canvas, embossed in leather, sewn onto denim, defiled with graffiti, rendered blindingly atop eye-watering exotics, and furnished otherwise upon every surface conceivable. 

Nevertheless, today’s designers must continue to reinvent, reimagine, or regurgitate the logo by any means possible, coming every new season, style, trend, or micro-trend. Well into the 128th year of its existence, Georges Vuitton’s envisioning of his father’s initials remains alive and kicking.

Yet, there’s some quaint, old-worldly charm to the monogram in its most original (though far from pristine) form, in chocolate canvas with honey Vachetta, living its best life alongside its carrier busy living theirs.

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Louis Vuitton Tivoli PM
LOUIS VUITTON Tivoli Bag
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That’s precisely what drew me towards a certain elegant lady in the wild the other day, an artfully battered (but not immediately identifiable) Vuitton piece nestled into the crook of her arm; its zipped top left consciously unfastened, and a little gold medallion dangling off of the end.

A quick bout of obsessive Googling revealed it to be the Tivoli satchel, leaving me wondering why the noughties’ fashionista-favorite, discontinued for nearly a decade now, was axed in the first place. Let us, therefore, revel yet again in the wonderful world of the Louis Vuitton Monogram and fondly reminisce about the Tivoli.

In True Y2K Fashion

At the very cusp of human civilization, when the Twilight franchise and the Sex and the City movie had both just premièred – scarring fans forever in the process – and the frenzied hyperabundance of the Y2K was swiftly giving way to an impending sense of post-recessionary gloom, the Tivoli quietly made its debut.

Louis Vuitton Tivoli Scarlett Johannson
Scarlett Johansson was the face of Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2007 Campaign.

In fact, named after the scenic town in the Italian countryside, its launch as a part of the wider Louis Vuitton Fall 2008 collection lacked much of the obligatory fanfare that generally goes into making an it-bag. Similarly sterile was the lookbook for the lineup, the Tivoli discreetly tucked away into the arms of Scarlett Johansson and Laetitia Casta (shot by Annie Leibovitz), with Paris’ Pont Neuf in the backdrop.

But occasionally, a bag rises from the ranks of the ordinary, and that’s precisely what the Tivoli did. Only ever manufactured in the classic monogram canvas, what made it distinctive was the inverted pleating and curved top – an homage to the architectural feats of its namesake town steeped in history – the engraved gold-tone Medallion zipper-pull the final finishing touch! 

Rise of Function, Death of Fashion?

Now that I think about it, it appears that the Tivoli was to Louis Vuitton what the Medallion Tote was to Chanel (in that both featured the ornamental charm and were released and discontinued roughly around the same timeframe). 

But while the Medallion certainly received its fair share of reality TV airtime (on the arms of Lauren Conrad in The Hills, specifically), the Tivoli mostly remained obscure among celebrity circles. Did that stop it from being sold out in stores? Not really, with buyer waitlists known to stretch for months!

The Tivoli highlighted, perhaps for the first time in the decade, a marked shift in the Y2K aesthetic: from the excessively ornamented to a more streamlined, practical silhouette targeted to the everyday user.

The Many Bags of Celebrities at LAX 25
While only a handful of stars, like Melanie Griffith carried the Tivoli, it was a certified PurseForum-favorite, as member Jeepgurl76 attests.

Of course, this is Louis Vuitton we speak of; we wouldn’t expect the house to do away with flashy logos just yet. But perhaps, with the two different sizing options PM (handheld) and the GM (with adjustable handles), secure zip-top, and spacious interior, it paved the way for the Proenza PS1s and Céline Luggages of the future.

Nevertheless, in a world still dominated by the hefty Chloé Paddington and Marc Jacobs’ sizeable Stam bag, the Tivoli, despite being a success story in its own right, clearly didn’t stand a chance of permanence. 

And that’s exactly what happened.

Too Soon to Say Goodbye?

By the time the 2010s had rolled in, the it-bags of the yesteryears had already begun their downward trajectory, with the discontinuation of the Paddington in 2010, the Fendi Spy in 2012, and finally the Stam in 2013. Therefore, the fact that the Tivoli even made it into 2014, six years since its launch, was astonishing. 

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Louis Vuitton Trevi Bag
LOUIS VUITTON Trevi Bag
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In handbag terms, after all, six years is quite the episode, especially when you’ve got a barrage of similarly monogrammed styles (that are heavier on function than fashion) populating the brand’s stores. And that’s exactly what the state of Louis Vuitton was like when Jacobs departed as the brand’s creative lead in 2014. 

In the major shake-up that followed with the appointment of Nicolas Ghesquière, not only the Tivoli but the Palermo, the Trevi, and a whole bunch of closely resembling canvas pieces – all with varying degrees of pleating and/or zipped construction – were put under the chopping block, much to the dismay of buyers (ironically enough – the brand went onto to introduce yet another pleated zip-top style, the Turenne, later that year, which too was subsequently discontinued).

Louis Vuitton Trevi Bag Ad
The Trevi was a popular alternative to the Tivoli at the time.

All this to say, in the race to continue and discontinue, where does that leave the average buyer such as ourselves? Perhaps the production halts of these much-beloved older designs marked the first step in what many have harked as the demise of the monogram canvas. Or perhaps it was really a move to popularize its permanent collections – the Speedy, the Neverfull, and the Alma

We may never know now.

What we do know, however, is that for the briefest period of recent history, the Tivoli had become a shining beacon of hope for functional fashionistas such as myself, remaining a resale bestseller to date. In a world full of Jacquemus banana bags in the shape of the Nike swoosh, that thought alone restores my faith in humanity.

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Sherry
Sherry
3 months ago

I still have mine! I just saw this bag on a resale site last for over $1000!
I always loved it. So huge, but so light. Think I’ll get it out and carry it this week.

Antonia
Antonia
3 months ago

Funny, all these bags seem like it was just yesterday they were new and popular. Hard to believe how much time has gone by!!

May
May
3 months ago

I have tivoli gm I bought from reseller from Osaka Japan it is very big and classic

Hamilton
Hamilton
3 months ago

I still have mine and haven’t used in years. Next time I travel will take it as it’s a great bag. My GM looks pretty good to be 14 years old.

Im late to the party, but I cherish my Tivoli GM.
Im late to the party, but I cherish my Tivoli GM.
14 days ago

i love my tivoli handbag. It was a birthday present and a surprise from hubby. I have the box, the dust cover, everything. Just ❤️