At Louis Vuitton’s Abbaye Vendôme atelier, exotic skins come in playful palettes.
In Vendôme, France, a monastery was restored to fulfill another kind of vocation. For centuries, the city’s Abbaye has housed Benedictine monks to members of the French cavalry. As purveyors of leather goods in luxury fashion, Louis Vuitton has since conducted a three-year restoration on the historic building, and since opening, its been made a home for artisans, a workshop, and now it is poised to be Louis Vuitton’s center of expertise in the manufacture of precious leathers.
As exotic skins remain a coveted and prized piece in one’s wardrobe, these precious materials call for the most significant consideration, even for the smallest details. Here, the Louis Vuitton’s artisans push their craft forward as they reimagine exotic skins for the contemporary landscape.
While the fashion house offers exotic skins in classic finishes, it has intensified the allure of one-of-a-kind luxury by proposing fascinating and unique color palettes that are then manipulated with future-forward finishes. A landmark treatment, dubbed Fusion by those in the know, has become a Louis Vuitton signature with artisans’ colored brush lines utilized to create a subtle striped effect.
The Abbaye Vendôme workshop, meanwhile, embodies the most concrete expression of the high standards that the House applies in its supply chains. From a traceability point of view, by the end of 2022, 100 percent of the crocodile leather used to manufacture Louis Vuitton bags will come from certified farms, in particular by the Crocodilian Standard.
Vogue gets a peek into what the innovators at Louis Vuitton have released, setting the tone for the future of exotic skins.
Inspired by nature’s color spectrum and precious gemstones, Louis Vuitton does a sophisticated take on natural hues reinterpreted on crocodilian skin. Shades of orange, fuschia, purple, and deep ocean blue ripple in gradient, a radiant display of fun and femininity. A gold-tinged finish is subtly laid onto the hues, the former being a result of a special wash-off technique where craftsmen rinse the gold color by hand. Look closer and see the color’s intensity vary with the light of the sun, making the bag a unique jewelry piece in itself.
This refined color palette became Louis Vuitton’s special offering when their designers were inspired by the famous Pointillism art movement. Artists like Seurat, Signac, and Van Gogh used small strokes or dots of color to visually blend together images from a distance. While art is an inspiration, the archive is also a reference with the finish revisiting the famous Misty Purple from the fashion house’s Fall 2021 collection. If that doesn’t lure you in, the Prestige is also available in a fresh new palette of seasonal colors imbued with the luster of minerals and the sheen of gold that shift shades under the sun.
An homage to an unrivaled classic: jeans. Louis Vuitton elevates the humble workwear into elegant form with denim finish juxtaposed onto crocodilian skin. Nuances of blue denim are delicately swabbed on to each scale by hand. With each stroke, a light touch with a small sponge is necessary, making each scale unique, and each Denim Crocodilian bag one of a kind. With a subtle silver tinge and the youthful spirit of faded denim, this bag takes the fresh and casual onto the precious and sophisticated, a perfect companion for the Summer season.
The enchanting finish of the Pink Silver Aurora celebrates the rare and exceptional phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights. Often described as the “dance of colors in the sky,” the Pink Silver Aurora’s shine similarly varies from light to strong hues, depending on how you look at the skin. In mastered finesse, the craftsmen in Louis Vuitton’s Abbaye Vendôme atelier developed a unique process for the iridescent Aurora finish. Using pink dyes, metallic films, and specialized brushes, the artisan recreates a beautiful patina along the horizontal scales against a pink crocodilian canvas.
Taking inspiration from the moment rays of light peak through a white sky, the finish of the Pink Rays contrast white against pink in a diffused eye-catching gradient. Unique to each piece, a high-shine finish is laid over the bag’s subtle color gradation. For the first time ever, rose gold hardware complements this rare finish and is completed in Louis Vuitton’s quintessential Capucines.
At Louis Vuitton, working with exotics is an adventure in itself, a thrilling exploration of new ways––through colors, treatments and innovations––to excite the imagination. Looking back, it seems like Vendome’s historic monastery isn’t so far off from its origins as a place of vocation. Today it houses a mission for precious skins, helping the industry find its contemporary place in fashion.