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The Go-For-Broke Handbag

Lauren Murrow | June 14, 2013 | Lifestyle Story Shopping

You don’t truly understand the meaning of the word “bespoke” until you’ve peered into Louis Vuitton’s so-called trunk of wonder. The padlocked, monogram-canvas chest is filled with 27 colored leathers and exotic skins, precious metals, and handbag prototypes to try on for size. The trunk is the centerpiece of the Parisian fashion house’s new Haute Maroquinerie salon, quietly opening on June 17 within its Union Square boutique (233 Geary St., near Stockton St., 415-391-6200).

It is only the fourth Vuitton showroom in the country where bag fetishists can privately commission one-of-a-kind carryalls stitched to exacting specifications—whether their tastes veer toward pristine Blanc casse calfskin or decorum-be-damned Blue canard croc. Inside, specialists quiz customers on the sort of minutiae typically reserved for one’s wedding gown, including the silhouette, size, skin, lining, and hardware. Then the handbag elves at the label’s workshop in Asnières, France, build your totable ideal (from $7,900) in 10 to 12 months—more time than it takes to gestate a baby—and even longer if the perfect skin eludes them.

Originally published in the June 2013 issue of San Francisco.

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