In a non-descript workshop in Asnières-sur-Seine, a quiet suburb just northwest of Paris, a Toile Monogram-covered metallic case meant to house a 36 centimeter trophy has been in production. The workspace belongs to Louis Vuitton, and the one of a kind carrying case – the official World Cup Trophy Travel case – is destined for Moscow. It is one of between 450 and 600 special orders – "the most exceptional requests" – that the LVMH-owned brand accepts each year.
As the story goes, Mr. Louis Vuitton, himself, opened this workshop in the quiet town of Asnières in 1859, just a few years after he founded his eponymous brand, in a strategic move; he wanted to work close to the Seine River, where the poplar wood from which his brand’s luxurious trunks were made could easily be transported by boat. So, the brand opened this outpost an hour from its store front in Paris.
The 164-year old brand has been offering custom creations, crafted in this same workshop by some of the world’s most skilled leather goods craftsmen, for the likes of the world’s wealthiest for over a century. One such client is, of course, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”), which first partnered with Louis Vuitton in 2010. As most coveted prize in world football, it seems only fitting that the gold World Cup trophy would travel in the creation of the world’s most valuable luxury brand.
Yes, once every four years, for the past eight years, Louis Vuitton has crafted FIFA’s special case. The luxury luggage house – which declines to provide any concrete details on its special order clients or the volume or cost of these custom creations – will create “just about any type of case as long as it involves travel and stays true to the spirit of its founder.”
"The sky's the limit," says Jade Hantouche, the director of special projects for Louis Vuitton. One example: A chest set made of inlaid lacquered wood, ebony-and-maple pieces and a russet leather case, which was estimated to have set its owner back approximately $21,000.
Some of Vuitton's earliest trunks – all of which are overseen by their respective individual craftsman from start to finish, in a process that can take up to six months – were made for storing tennis racquets, hats, silverware, cologne, hairbrushes, wine, and even a bed.
Since then, such custom orders are said to have included specialized travel pieces to hold everything from a minibar and backgammon set to computers and clothing; “a makeup case with detachable legs for a Japanese Kabuki artist; and a travel trunk for a Saudi prince's hookah,” according to the SF Gate. The staff of roughly 200 also spends time making the leather bags and limited-edition bags for Louis Vuitton’s seasonal fashion shows.
And the World Cup Trophy Travel case, that is, which made its debut on Thursday as the 64-game football series kicked off in Moscow, Russia.