The Art of the Vintage Trunk

Louis Vuitton is recognised for two things – one; it’s excellent for craftsmanship and it’s portrayal and importance in the representation of luxury in the world of fashion.

But, what the whole world might not be aware of is how the Louis Vuitton established himself as a malletier. And he was exceptional. Just how excellent was he at making luggage? His pieces are now artwork that is auctioned off, collected or handed on as heirlooms, and for many are the focal statement in anybody’s home.

The flat-topped trunk

He designed a trunk that can be stacked together, that’s also lightweight and airtight, compared to the current trend then, rounded-top trunks. But this wasn’t the dealbreaker. His trunks were customizable, bespoke as we say now – you can have drawers and special pockets for whatever items that you bring along your journey. No two trunks are ever the same, especially now. 

The Craft

A trunk has to be durable and to ensure this, construction should be impeccable – from the trunk’s coating, wooden structure, slats, and corners that contribute to shock absorption, to the zinc sheeting for bottom insulation. The wooden frames used for the trunks are mostly from 30-year-old poplar wood, dried for no less than four years. They also infuse okoume and beech, as these are famous for their light and resistant properties. The trunk is signed with a hidden stamp before covering it with canvas or leather.

The next step would be doing the traditional saddle stitch, known to their brand, because of its lasting strength. This has been done identically all throughout their years, using two needles and a flax thread coated with beeswax. The parts of the trunk that are fragile to overuse, the corners and edges of the luggage, are protected by Iozine leather trim. It’s a strong vulcanized fibre exclusive to Louis Vuitton. 

Photo: Vintage Stokowski Trunk from Louis Vuitton, 1940s 

The infamous brass locks, which were designed to be inviolable, can only be opened by a handmade key that is created solely for the client. And only one key per trunk is made. And if you’re wondering how do they smoothen the leather monogram without damaging it, the finishing is done with a special device that could take up to half a year to finish. 

What’s it Worth?

If you think that spending $86,594 AUD is a lot for a Vintage French Hemingway Trunk from the 1930s, you might want to think again as this is just slightly above the average cost. A Vintage Stokowski Trunk with a pull-out table is priced at A$93,200.


The most expensive trunk sold at an auction was the aluminium Explorer Louis Vuitton trunk bought for A$293,400 in 2018. There are also only 2 existing models of this, and one is on display at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. And most important all, Louis Vuitton himself was known to have worked on these aluminium trunks. Nothing trumps that piece of history. 


But the most expensive bespoke LV trunk ever made was designed by Cricketer Michael Clarke, for the benefit of the Sydney Children’s Hospital. It was said to be sold privately at Christie’s Auction House for a value of $245,650. 

Photo: Deccan Chrolince

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