November 20, 2023
For the latest episode of a recently released podcast series, French fashion house Louis Vuitton is making its way through the archives.
Episode four of “Louis Vuitton [Extended]” features host Loïc Prigent, who speaks with Pierre-Louis Vuitton, a sixth-generation descendant of the maison’s founder. Gaining access to some of the luxury mainstay’s long-held secrets while exploring the Louis Vuitton Family Home in Asnières, France, the broadcast uses a modern medium to dish on the brand’s rich history.
Digging up the past
The episode, released on Nov. 16, takes audiences back to the house’s humble beginnings in 1854.
Mr. Prigent and Mr. Vuitton begin an excursion to Asnières by previewing their perspectives on the property, the former never having set foot inside and the latter having spent a decade of his life within its walls.
The broadcast uses a modern medium to dish on the brand’s rich history
“All the rooms had pieces from Gaston [Louis Vuitton’s] collection, and there were bedrooms upstairs,” says Mr. Vuitton, during the episode.
“[The house] really has changed a lot.”
Listeners learn that, for a certain stretch, the full Vuitton family moved away from the house, living separately. Instead, they used the home as a workshop and storage space.
From Mr. Vuitton’s memory, the only relatives to have ever inhabited the estate were his father, grandfather and the 100 to 200 employees the pair oversaw. An atelier operation is still based on the premises today.
The interviewee shares that his forefather, who would go on to establish Louis Vuitton by the late 19th century, left home at the age of 13, leaving Jura, France to pursue his dreams. It took him two years to reach Paris, where he was taken in by a master trunk maker, training in the craft for 15 years before starting his own business.
“In the time when Louis was just starting out, there were 200 to 300 trunk makers in Paris, he wasn’t alone,” Mr. Vuitton says.
After finding success, the founder needed a large enough place to store his supplies and craft his luggage. Asnières was where he landed.
Close to transport lines and waterways, the spot was prime for shipping goods and receiving raw materials, playing a key role in the ascent of today’s globally recognized luxury label.
Sharing musings on the fact that the duo had only discussed the men of Louis Vuitton up to this point, Mr. Prigent then asks about the involvement of any women.
The sixth-generation descendant of the eponymous trunk-maker reveals his favorite trunks while embarking on an exclusive journey through the Malle Courrier exhibition. Listen at https://t.co/odcJDustcv#PierreLouisVuitton #LVExtended #LouisVuitton pic.twitter.com/zBwBGGxtD4
— Louis Vuitton (@LouisVuitton) November 16, 2023
Mr. Vuitton states that throughout the Family Home’s existence as a workshop, the wives of the Vuitton family, while not credited for their work, were responsible for keeping daily operations in order, essentially serving as production managers.
The segment leads into a live tour of the La Malle Courrier exhibition, live until late February 2024 (see story), while speaking on historically significant aspects of several of the luggage pieces. For example, Louis Vuitton’s signature Damier pattern was not present until the second version of its courier trunk was created.
Regarding three popular suitcase styles, Mr. Vuitton reveals a secret that the family has been holding onto for decades: the names of its “Bisten,” “Cotteville” and “Alzer” top handles are all neologisms, made up and passed down through generations.
Leaving the exhibition space, Mr. Prigent and Mr. Vuitton take a final look around the Family Home, stopping for check-ins with Léa, a trunkmaker, and Marie, who is responsible for special orders.
The pair chat through their experiences working with the brand, touching upon materials used during production and other behind-the-scenes exclusives before the episode comes to a close.