Louis Vuitton L’Excellence du Savoir-Faire: The Special Orders Tradition

Special orders are a glorious tradition at Louis Vuitton, which has always taken pride in fulfilling its customers’ most excep- tional requests. From the legendary foldout trunk-bed designed by Louis and Georges Vuitton for expeditions to far-flung corners of the globe to the solar powered DVD and Coffee secretary trunk, Louis Vuitton has devised countless elegant and ingenious ways to help its customers satisfy a specific need, express their individuality, or realize a dream. The historic Asnières workshop near Paris has traditionally made all special orders. The department is personally over- seen by Patrick-Louis Vuitton, representing the fifth generation of the founding family, who is himself a trained and talented craftsman. Louis Vuitton distinguishes between two types of special orders: made-to-order and custom-made. Made-to- order is an exclusive service allowing for selected items from the permanent collection to be interpreted in other materials. Custom-made pieces, meanwhile, are unique, one-off creations that elegantly reconcile the customer’s wishes with technical considerations and established design codes, at the same time affording Louis Vuitton’s craftsmen the opportunity to demonstrate their exceptional expertise.

The essential condition for any special order is that it must respect the spirit of travel, being designed both to protect and to transport a customer’s belongings. Patrick-Louis Vuitton is fond of quoting the words of Georges Vuitton, his great- grandfather, who used to say: “The main thing is to allow your personal effects to travel in the greatest possible comfort”.

For over a century and a half, Louis Vuitton’s Asnières workshop has been the living symbol of the company’s unique combination of tradition and innovation. To mark this important anniversary, Louis Vuitton will celebrate “l’Excellence du Savoir-Faire” through its heritage of special orders by partnering with some of today’s iconic figures who themselves possess a rare expertise.

Masters of Savoir-Faire
Louis Vuitton offered six masters of savoir-faire the opportunity to create a unique special order that embodies their exceptional expertise in their respective professions. The six personalities are: the chef Ferran Adrià, the artist Damien Hirst, the photographer Annie Leibovitz, the musician and composer Gustavo Santaolalla, the designer Marc Jacobs, and Patrick-Louis Vuitton, the head of Louis Vuitton’s Special Orders department, and a member of the fifth generation of the Vuitton family.

The Special Orders
Uniting tradition and modernity, these pieces bear testimony to Louis Vuitton’s savoir-faire in the domain of Special Orders. Ranging from hard-frame to soft-sided, they are interpreted in a variety of materials, from Monogram and Damier Graphite canvas to Nomade leather and alligator. Each piece was designed by Patrick-Louis Vuitton in collaboration with the personality.

Patrick Louis Vuitton – Watercolor Case
Marc Jacobs – “Home Away From Home” Case
Annie Leibovitz – Nomadic Photographer’s Bag
Damien Hirst – 95 Secretaire Spécial Case
Gustavo Santaolalla – Roncoco Case
Ferran Adrià – Travel Case

The Red Cross Anniversary
In 2009, the Red Cross celebrates 150 years of internationally renowned savoir-faire in humanitarian aid. To commemorate the event, Louis Vuitton has crafted a limited-edition Red Cross medical trunk, which will be offered in a charity auction held at Sotheby’s, along with the unique special orders created by the masters of savoir-faire. The charity auction will take place at Sotheby’s New Bond Street premises during a gala dinner in November 2009, from which all proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross.

Images via Louis Vuitton