When it comes to exotic leather craftsmanship, few match Louis Vuitton’s attention to detail. The French house has earned an esteemed reputation for its dedicated approach to working with rare materials.
Displayed in Aspen alongside the maison’s Objets Nomades, Louis Vuitton’s exotic handbags offer a sense of luxury not easily acquired. In fact, the creation of these bags could not be harder. With each individual piece taking roughly 350 steps to complete, it’s far from an overnight process. The skin must first be tanned, nourished, and buffed, taking upwards of 10 weeks to complete. Another six weeks is allotted to colour and re-buff the leather’s surface, and only after this is complete can constructing the bag begin.
Taking on exotic leathers is incredibly tricky from a design perspective; each bag’s design and colour must be selected to best suit the natural patterns of the scales. Due to the unique formations found in the scales of snake, crocodile, and alligator skin—the three exotic leathers Louis Vuitton works with—the artisans must take on the challenge of creating uniformity.
On average, each bag requires three separate skins to create a seamless design. The end result offers an individu- ality akin to a thumbprint: no two are the same.
It’s not just the patterns within the leather that provide a one-of-a-kind feel. The way the leather is treated is also unique to the maison, as Louis Vuitton is always looking to push for innovation in leatherwork. Each skin is selected from Singapore’s Heng Long Tannery, regarded as the world’s most ethical tannery, which uses only the most prized leather procured from around the world.
Experimenting with traditional Japanese techniques like the “raku” treatment—acting like glaze on pottery to intensify the contrast between scales—or the tie-dye effect inspired by Japanese shibori, the end result is like no other. While classic finishes are still available within the exotics collection, these experimental treatments allow for a more contemporary feel, breathing life into the collection. With rich, bright jewel tones, sultry blacks, and metallic finishes, the collection is varied and incredibly striking.
In true Louis Vuitton fashion, each bag is made to order upon request. There are 25 specially formulated colours permanently available to choose from, with more options becoming available seasonally. These exotic skins can be found on classic Louis Vuitton designs such as the Capucines and the Twist, elevating the already-beloved bags.
This arduous process in leatherwork is why Louis Vuitton exotic bags are the maison’s most exclusive offering. The love for the craft shines through with each meticulous detail, making these purses deeply special and inarguably timeless.
Photography by Saty + Pratha.