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PARIS — It took three craftsmen at the Louis Vuitton workshop in Asnières, outside Paris, 100 hours to build a traveling case for the 13.6-pound soccer World Cup trophy.
When they finished, Patrick-Louis Vuitton, the great-great-grandson of the company’s founder, donned white gloves and carefully placed the gold and malachite trophy inside the case. Then he snapped the locks shut and gave it a good shake.
“That was the ultimate test,” Vuitton says. “The Cup did not move inside the case, so we had succeeded. We had made a piece of luggage designed to transport a precious object, in line with our tradition.
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A selection of these special orders, including a tea case made for the Maharaja of Baroda in 1926, is on display at the company’s private museum housed in a section of the former Vuitton family home.
The house, located in the garden surrounding the workshop, features beautifully preserved Art Nouveau reception rooms. Of particular note is the bow window, decorated with floral motifs in stained glass designed by Paul-Louis Janin in 1900.
Open only to company personnel and special guests, Vuitton’s Museum of Travel features remnants of a bygone era such as the steamer bag, perfect for the cabin of a luxury liner, and a circular “driver bag” destined to fit in the center of a spare wheel.
The museum is also home to the private collection of Gaston-Louis Vuitton, the grandson of the founder, who amassed some 200 travel items dating to the end of the 16th century.
In the workshop next door, the company completes some 450 custom orders each year. No request is too unusual, provided the object is made to travel. Vuitton routinely turns down requests for tables or chairs covered in its trademark monogram canvas.
“We had an Englishman who asked us to made a case for his rubber duck, which apparently he was very fond of,” recalls Pietro Beccari, Vuitton’s senior vice president.
For those not privileged enough to visit the museum, the company will publish an illustrated book with Editions de la Martinière in October highlighting 100 extraordinary trunks. No word yet on whether the rubber duck has made the final cut.