It can take about 12 hours to make the classic Steamer bag and one of the specialists that made them has just retired after 44 years with the company. The average time these skilled craftspeople spend with Vuitton is 22 years, each an expert in a different skill, which means there is huge preserved knowledge to be found in the ateliers.
Sometimes Patrick Louis Vuitton can be spotted in the bespoke orders workshops at Asnieres. Each generation's rite of passage into the company has been to make one of those trunks from scratch. Patrick Louis Vuitton (who looks remarkably like his great-grandfather, Louis) was 16 when his grandmother sent him to the workshop to learn how to build a trunk. His son Pierre, similarly, has learned the skill, while his other son, Benoit, is more at home in Vuitton's watch workshops.
Although Louis Vuitton merged with Moet-Hennessy in 1987 with Bernard Arnault as president, the family gives continuity and historical integrity to the brand. Patrick Louis Vuitton is not involved in making those must-have bags but his expertise in making those famous trunks and special orders, historically the backbone of the business, means that Louis Vuitton still represents unbeatable quality and heirloom status.
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