Cover Skins are chosen and assembled in such a way that patterns flow flawlessly and seamlessly across the bag’s surface (Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton)

Louis Vuitton brings a new level of craftsmanship to luxury bags with its exotic skins collection

Some luxury handbags are more than just investment pieces. As far as functionality goes, they’re the vessels that protect and carry day-to-day valuables. But where fashion is concerned, handbags are the icing on the cake of a look. That being said, French fashion house Louis Vuitton’s exotic skins collection is a special kind of frosting.

Vuitton is familiar with crafting its goods using only the most prized materials. Through its exploration of exotics, the maison considers crocodile to be the pinnacle. Working with these skins is a meticulously planned-out journey from beginning to end. A specialised skill is required to work through the long hours that go into creating each bag, and Vuitton’s craftsmen are present in each of the 350 steps of the way.

How the bags are designed is determined once they’re tanned in a process that takes anywhere from six to eight months, depending on the nature and size of the skin. Colouring, nourishing and buffing take an additional six weeks to complete, before the process of even shaping the bag begins. As the objective is to find the best way to exhibit the skin’s natural beauty, the bag’s design, structure, treatment and finish all take their cues from the natural patterns of the skins.

Continuity of patterns in each piece is crucial, so skins are chosen and assembled in a way that results in edges that meet seamlessly. This process requires much precision and attention to detail not just where uniformity is concerned, but also in the sameness of colour and lustre of each surface area. Bags are hand-buffed with an agate stone (polished every two days to retain its smoothness) to a glistening finish. Several hours are devoted to assembling each bag; the creation of a single Capucines handle, for instance, requires at least four hours of work to fashion just the right curve in its bow, and fold in its outer skin.

Crafting bags from crocodile is certainly colourful—in all senses of the word—seen most clearly in the fastidious steps Vuitton takes to find the right tone and hue. An average of 15 trials are undertaken to create the precise dye recipe that syncs with the design team’s preferred colour. Skins may be presented in a classic finish if preferred, but Vuitton dares to go bold in its ever-constant experimentation with various inventive treatments, bringing an exciting new dimension to bags made of exotics. For example, the fashion house has created a signature treatment called “Fusion”, where lines of colour are brushed on, rendering a lateral striped effect on the bag.

The exotics are offered in styles from Vuitton’s permanent collection: Cannes, Capucines, City Steamer, Milla, Neo Square, Petite Boîte Chapeau, Petite Malle and Twist. As every bag is assembled strictly by hand, each exotic skin piece is a marvel in its own right, worthy of carrying all the daily essentials, while icing up a look.

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