Inside the private workshops of Louis Vuitton

The Assouline book features 350 photographs commissioned exclusively for this volume, showcasing the extraordinary locations, buildings, and creators behind Louis Vuitton leather goods.
February 5, 2022, 3:00 PM UTC
'Louis Vuitton Manufactures'
Courtesy of Assouline

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Louis Vuitton’s signature monogram print has been an iconic staple in the travel and fashion worlds alike since it was first introduced by the French fashion house in 1896.

Louis, Georges, and Gaston-Louis Vuitton, with the artisans of the Maison, in the courtyard of the workshops in Asnières- sur-Seine, circa 1888.
Courtesy of Archives Louis Vuitton Malletier

But while even the casual observer could pick out a Louis Vuitton handbag or suitcase based on the familiar brown and tan pattern, few people are familiar with the work that goes on behind the scenes to producing the leather goods, ready-to-wear clothing, watches, and much more since the company was first founded in 1854.

Atelier d’Asnières: Barely five years after founding his House, Louis Vuitton began to outgrow his Parisian headquarters. In 1859, he relocated the new workshops to Asnières-sur-Seine, a village a few kilometers northwest of Paris.
Oliver Pilcher

A new coffee table book from luxury publisher Assouline means to change that. Available February 1, Louis Vuitton Manufactures showcases the ateliers of Louis Vuitton and the artisans who create the maison’s couture pieces.

Atelier De Prêt-à-Porter Rare et Exceptionnel. Place Vendôme, Paris.
Oliver Pilcher

Featuring more than 350 exclusive photographs splashed in full frame over 400 pages, Manufactures takes the reader on a tour across France (and beyond) and behind the closed doors of Louis Vuitton’s many private studios and workshops.

Working on Louis Vuitton’s iconic monogram print. Atelier d’Asnières. Asnières-sur-Seine, France.
Oliver Pilcher

As described in a statement, “Louis Vuitton has scattered ateliers the length and breadth of France and beyond, to Geneva, Veneto, and even Texas. Often sites of historic interest or outstanding natural beauty will have a Louis Vuitton workshop nearby: In Normandy, the sea-girt fastness of Mont-Saint-Michel can be seen from the workshop; the facility in Beaulieu-sur-Layon is complete with beehives for making honey.”

Atelier de la Drôme. Rhône-Alpes, France.
Oliver Pilcher

The book is in fact dedicated to the skilled craftspeople and artisans who have worked at Louis Vuitton over the years.

“They are people who love making stuff with their hands,” explains Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer for Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co., as quoted in the book’s introduction from an interview with the author, historian Nicholas Foulkes.

La Manufacture de Souliers. Fiesso D’Artico, Italy.
Oberto Gili

Burke goes on to posit that we are living in the age of the “celebrity creator,” and indeed, creative and artistic directors at major fashion houses in the four of the top fashion capitals of the world—Paris, London, New York, and Milan—are often as famous (and idolized, for better or worse) in the same vein as the models and Hollywood stars who wear their garments on the catwalk and red carpet, respectively.

Les Ateliers De Ducey. Normandy, France.
Oliver Pilcher

Most recently, that luminary at the top of Louis Vuitton was Virgil Abloh, heralded by some industry insiders as the Karl Lagerfeld of his generation (at least in terms of creativity and influence), tragically gone too soon with his death at age 41 in December 2021.

Louis Vuitton recently held its 2022 runway show showcasing Abloh’s final collection, a reportedly (and understandably) subdued affair reflecting the designer’s signature touches on apparel matched by subtle revamps to LV’s classic trunks, clutches, and handbags.

Atelier de la Haute Joaillerie. Place Vendôme, Paris.
Oliver Pilcher

“When you spend time with these new, transgressive individuals, these 21st century creative types, they all have one thing in common. They are all in aw of the past, they wouldn’t be successful if they hadn’t learned from the past,” explains Burke, as quoted in the introduction. “Everyone sees them only as disruptors, but if they were just disrupting, they wouldn’t be successful for long. The reason why they are successful is because they are disrupting by taking people back. Instead of copying the past, they are understanding it and serving it up in a 21st century way.”

Atelier de Prêt-à-Porter Rare et Exceptionnel. Place Vendôme, Paris.
Oliver Pilcher

Measuring 10 inches by 13 inches, the silk hardcover book will be available immediately in French and English. Editions in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese will follow in April 2022.