About 30 minutes from Paris, in its special-order workshop at Asnières-sur-Seine, lies the heart and soul of Louis Vuitton. This is where LV transforms the desires of its travel-loving clients into reality—explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza’s famous bed trunk, the Maharajah of Baroda’s tea trunk, Ernest Hemingway’s library trunk, Greta Garbo’s shoe trunk…
To this day, key pieces are created in this shrine to the art of travel: rigid trunks, designs in rare or exotic leathers, as well as special orders such as skateboard trunks, iPad trunks or even one-off violin trunks. Whatever the form, it is here that the savoir faire of the Asnières artisans is stamped on history.
And what a storied history. Louis Vuitton’s luggage company was founded in the right place at the right time—when the 19th century enthusiasm for imperialist expansion converged with the birth of the steam age. The newfangled railways and steamships enabled more Europeans to travel to far-flung destinations than ever before—and these well-to-do globetrotters wanted a practical yet glamorous means to transport their belongings.
The house’s eponymous founder recognised the necessity for a new design and provided it. Vuitton was the first trunk-maker to produce flat-top trunks, the better for stacking, and he also made them lighter—and impervious to inclement weather—with flexible poplar-wood frames and waterproofed canvas sides.