The Eternal Louis Vuitton
Three generations with one Papillon
One of the most amazing things about owning a Louis Vuitton is that no matter how old or how damaged it is, it is eternally a Louis Vuitton. My Papillon bag has been in my family for three generations and over a half century now. My grandmother purchased it back when she was about my age and has been passed down through my mama and now to me. Although my grandmother passed away when I was still in elementary school, I remember how stylish she was. Even when she was merely going to her routine checkups at the hospital, she would always dress up to look her finest in her Hermes dress, Ferragamo shoes, Mikimoto pearls and her Papillon hanging from her arms. To this day, she is the most elegant lady I know.
By the time I became the owner of this timeless Papillon, it was quite evident that it had seen better days. The zip had been completely torn off the actual body and it seemed to be exhausted from being the carrier of my grandmother and mama’s essentials for so many years. However, as a bag with such a strong bond with my family, I could not think of parting with it and wanted to keep the tradition going for another few generations.
By the time I had made my way to their boutique, the authentication card had been long lost and the serial number seemed to have worn away. As the manager came to explain that she will have to verify my Papillon before discussing any repairs, I was slightly worried and started to think about other options for getting my handbag back to an acceptable level of functionality. An awkward waiting game started.
The manager returned after what felt like eternity (although in actual fact she was only away for about 10 minutes) in a slightly awe state and started to explain how much of a vintage classic my Papillon was. It was such a relief when she said that they could fix my Papillon as much as possible without taking away any of its original features. We agreed that although the handles were quite worn out, it would be a shame to replace them completely with new ones which would be in a slightly different tan colour. She later explained that apparently, my Papillon was so old that the particular treatment technique applied to the monogram canvas was no longer used on new Louis Vuitton leather and the original zip was not in production.
I did not see my Papillon for nearly a month and I found out later that Louis Vuitton had to search for a while to get the right zip shipped in for the repair. The wait, however, was definitely worth it. When I finally got my Papillon back, I could not believe the incredible work Louis Vuitton had put into my beloved handbag. It was as if I had witnessed a handbag reincarnation.
Since that day, my Papillon has become part of my style staple, firmly on my arm, just like my grandmother back in the day. It is a timeless piece that works with so many different looks and a style which I do not think I would ever stop loving. As my forever ‘it’ bag, I wanted to share my special connection with my Papillon with you with the hope that you could have a similar experience with it in the future. My wish now is for my Papillon to live beyond my life and for it to become a forever bag that continues to live on in my family, generation after generation.
Papillon monogram canvas handbag | Louis Vuitton.
All images photographed at University College London and Bedford Way, London.
Photography | Form 42 . Photo editing | Mariko Kuo. Art direction + layout | Mariko Kuo.