What goes into making a Louis Vuitton trunk?
Stepping into the box
With the Louis Vuitton 'Time Capsule' exhibition opening in Singapore this Wednesday 18 October — be sure to immerse yourself in Louis Vuitton's iconic codes in the purpose-built tent for the exhibition at ION Orchard — it had me thinking about a golden shopping rule: Always invest in what a fashion house is known for. Say what? Let me explain.
For those starting out on their luxury shopping journey, you should always buy pieces that made the maison famous. Why? Because it's these objects, through the deft combination of meticulous craftsmanship and thoughtful design (to fulfill a need or purpose, beautifully), that transformed these brands into luxury houses in the first place. So, for example, your first trench coat should be Burberry; your first loafers should be Gucci; and your first luggage trunk should be Louis Vuitton. Build a foundation of classics that speak to your good taste and discernment. Then, and only then, dabble with the trendy logo tee or oversized hoody. Concrete before carpets. Gateau before garnish.
But Louis Vuitton trunks are a serious investment — surely there is a comparable substitute? Having had the pleasure of visiting the Louis Vuitton trunk workshop in Asnières, Paris, let me assure you: You get what you pay for. And in the context of Louis Vuitton trunks, it’s deceptively simple luggage made to the most exacting of standards, all crafted by hand.
For an insight into what goes into making a Louis Vuitton trunk, here are two of my favourites: The Louis Vuitton President briefcase, and the super covetable Petite Malle.
Let’s just clear the air straight away: You don’t need to hold a white-collar job to own a Louis Vuitton President briefcase. Needless to say, it fits all your work documents and personal belongings with enough room for your laptop and protein bars (here’s looking at you Marina Bay Financial Centre suits), but even if you’re not a lawyer or investment banker, this bad boy looks just as dope stowing records and books, or stacked up in your living room as a post-modern coffee table. Function and form. Sweet.
Did you know? The Louis Vuitton President briefcase is made from a complicated construction of Gaboon and Beech wood that absorbs shocks and allows for the natural expansion of the wood without impacting the shape. Want something other than Monogram or Damier checks? You can personalise your briefcase with 25 different external materials (including Epi and Taiga leather) and 38 different leather lining materials for the interior of your case (with colours ranging from fuchsia to cyan). A total of 300 nails (either brass or palladium) are used in conjunction with refined lozine strips — those leather trims along the edges of the briefcase — to secure the construction and coverings.
Key fact: The patented ‘S’ locking mechanism on each trunk has a unique number that corresponds to its own key. You can request for Louis Vuitton to use the same lock on all your hard sided pieces; thus, allowing you to use the same key for all your cases.
Launched as part of the fall/winter 2014 runway collection, the Petite Malle is evidence of the fact that, indeed, good things do come in small packages. Creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere took the maison's rich heritage in trunkmaking — dating all the way back to 1853 — and applied it to the needs of the modern woman: Something petite and pretty, yet still sturdy and light, to hold of all life's necessitities. Think: Cash, cards, smart phone, and love letters from your secret admirer. Like the Louis Vuitton President briefcase, the Petite Malle can be personalised through the made-to-order service — choose your external covering, internal leather lining, and painted customisation via stripes or initials — and employs between 40 to 50 nails to secure the coverings onto the Gaboon wood construction.
Did you know? Carried as a clutch, or slung across the body with an adjustable and removable leather strap, the Petite Malle has now become one of Louis Vuitton's 'New Classics'. From the traditional Monogram canvas and exotic crocodile skin coverings, to transparent plexiglass and hundreds of hand-beaded sequins, the Petite Malle is continually refreshed each season with new luxurious details and finishings — making this must-have item even more irresistable and on-the-money.
Fun fact: The three crosses on the Petite Malle was inspired by Albert Kahn's personal signature on all his Louis Vuitton trunks that he ordered to transport his photography equipment and personal belongings.
The Louis Vuitton 'Time Capsule' exhibition is located on level one at ION Orchard, and is open daily from 10am to 10pm from 18 October to 5 November 2017. Free admission.