Step Inside The House Louis Vuitton Showed On Its Paris Runway Plus A New All Immersive Exhibition
The latest edition of LVMH’s Les Journées Particulières, when the group throws open the doors of its luxury houses to the public, takes place October 14 – 16. And one particular house is a real highlight.
LVMH’s most emblematic site is Asnières-sur-Seine to the northwest of Paris, both the location of the family home of the eponymous Louis Vuitton founder and the original workshop he opened in 1859.
The Louis Vuitton ateliers were built in steel and glass, in the futuristic style popularized by Gustave Eiffel while the Art Nouveau family home was constructed in current form towards the end of the 19th century.
It is a replica of this Art Nouveau house that Nicolas Ghesquière sent out on the Louis Vuitton Spring 2023 runway — fashioned as a miniature trunk.
Louis Vuitton has its origins as a trunk maker and the Asnières atelier is the site where this legacy continues in contemporary form. The 300 artisans employed there construct the trunks or ‘malles’ that the house makes to order — by hand, using both the traditional processes and fabrications of the originals.
As well as visiting aforementioned Art Nouveau house, Les Journées Particulières visitors will get an induction into this savoir-faire.
The skeleton and drawers are constructed in poplar wood by carpenters which is lined in fabric for protection before the draws and interiors are covered in leather and the exterior in that monogrammed coated canvas. The protective border or ‘lozine’ is nailed in place and the hardware and locks fitted. Each lock is engraved with a unique serial number so if you lose your key it can be easily replaced.
While the largest trunk this writer saw on her on Les Journées Particulières preview tour was a giant cocktail cabinet — involving a team of five craftspeople and three weeks’ work — there are many more orders for private clients that happen in secrecy. There was talk of a trunk built to house some 40 pairs of ballerinas and another for sneakers.
Les Journées Particulières is also an opportunity to encourage new talent. In addition to its apprentice schemes, the LVMH Group hires and trains people at all stages of life.
‘Maroquinier Malletier’ (that’s leather worker and trunk maker), Clémence de Kersauzon was a former real estate agent. She wanted to change careers and learn a craft. Her local job center sent her to Louis Vuitton as it was recruiting. Having passed an initial test, she was enrolled in a in a month-long introductory program — part training and partly to assess people’s aptitude.
She’s been at Asniéres for two years and is currently wrapping wooden draws in leather — “it’s like dressing them in their clothes,” she says, explaining that although, logistically, some of the trunks are multi-person affairs, smaller pieces can be crafted by a single artisan from carpentry to coat.
Following tours of both house and atelier, Les Journées Particulières visitors will also preview a new immersive exhibition unveiled in the adjacent gallery space. The show will be themed around “Louis: The Game”, the in-app video game based on Louis Vuitton’s history that was first released in 2021 to celebrate the its 200th anniversary.
Proof that the house’s savoir-faire encompasses both traditional craftsmanship and digital innovation. And, more importantly, that both can happily co-exist.
Although launched to coincide with Les Journées Particulières, this exhibition will continue to run independently.
The previous show, premiered at Asnières in December 2021 — “200 Trunks, 200 Visionaries” featuring reinterpretations of the famous Vuitton trunk by creatives diverse as K-pop outfit BTS, Supreme, Marc Jacobs, architect Peter Marino and and cognitive scientist Scott Barry Kaufman — proceeded to tour the world and has just arrived in New York.
This year, the tenth anniversary of the initiative, there are 57 houses and 93 venues participating worldwide. When the Les Journées Particulières tickets were released online in September, the quota for most of the participating venues sold out in all of five minutes, however, some spots have been reserved for each, available on the days, on a first come first served basis. LesJourneesParticulieres.com/2022