Behind any wall, any corner, any street is Asnieres. Not exactly, Asnieres is the name of the town. But for the people that conform Louis Vuitton the name of the house is “ Asnieres”, they talk about it like when spys do in a secret code.
I was oblivious to the code. When they called us to say we were invited, the complicity in Pedro’s voice was notorious, the announcement deserved all the enthusiasm that his voice reflected but even though I told him we were super grateful, I was unaware of where or what was this invitation for. – They invited us to Asnieres!– told my husband with a question mark on my forehead. I guessed it was a very special place, because every time they invite us to something is magnificent.
We arrived. The gates opened to the sight of the car. The garden. A secret garden, like others around Paris, but specially charming. We stepped out of the car. With doubtful determination walked to the front door and went inside. No one there. The house, with an english/belle-epoque decor kept intact. Art Nouveau large windows. Ceramic fire place. Books. Trunks. Flowers. A piano. Pictures of several members of the Vuitton family. Aesthetically looked like it could belong to a character from a Flaubert novel.
A distinguished blonde lady made an appearance in the living room. –I am Marguerite– she introduced her self. – Let’s speak in spanish. It’s been a while since I practice mine.– They brought us some tea. We talked about everything.
She told us the story of a 13 year old boy, who resolved to leave his hometown in the french mountains and travel to Paris, walking. It took him 2 years to get there. His name was Louis. That same boy, many years latter, in 1859 bought this land to build a factory for the trunks and bags , that the Parisian society had come to love and value so much. The fame was well deserved, they were the best. Mr. Vuitton had develop a way to make them water proof, stackable, and lined with such great materials that lasted forever. In 1870 he built his house in that same land, and 5 generations of his family lived in the same place where I was now enjoying my cup of tea. That is the kind of situation that makes my heart skip a beat, it is like flipping around impermanence, being able to avoid the finiteness quality of life, like playing a relay race and cheat on death. It feels like saying: “ Despite your very intentions, we are still here drinking some tea.”
She took us around the property. Until today the trunk and bags factory functions there. They particularly manufacture all there “petite malle” bags and special orders here. We got to meet every single person that worked there. Real artists, with a level of skill, and dedication to every detail, that I have never seen before. The exact opposite of mass production. Every one of them, treats each piece as a unique masterpiece. It also impressed me how “zen” the work enviroment felt. Clean and quiet.
On our way out we visited the recently inaugurated interactive museum, I suggested them to open it to the public soon. Its filled with history and meaning.
She said goodbye showering us with presents, but we left specially flooded with the energy of the spirit of an extraordinary boy, that more than 150 years ago decided to go to Paris by foot.