PARIS — Louis Vuitton pored over a wide swath of literary lore — from the color of ink used by 17th-century French novelists to the trunk Ernest Hemingway used to lug his typewriter — in readying its latest product volley: an expanded range of writing instruments and paper products.
This story first appeared in the November 15, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
They are to be unveiled here on Dec. 13, when the French luxury giant opens a temporary boutique at 6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés called Le Cabinet d’Ecriture Louis Vuitton (or Louis Vuitton’s writing room, in English).
Two years in development, the products range from envelopes whose flaps are illustrated with trunk closures to cigar-thick fountain pens in glossy alligator leather.
There are modern, high-tech features, too, including what Vuitton claims is among the first patented innovations in fountain pens since 1953: a mechanism that protects cartridges from pressure changes due to air travel, and prevents leakage in a variety of writing conditions.
While Vuitton has marketed some pens since the Eighties, the new, expanded range is designed to dazzle connoisseurs, many of whom own hundreds of rare or specialized pens and travel with them in custom-made trunks.
The brand also hopes to seduce new writing devotees with ranges of luxury pencils and pens — which come in ballpoint, pencil and roller formats, too — that are sporty and feminine, along with leather goods to hold notebooks and other paper products.
Retail prices will range from 35 euros, or $44.50 at current exchange, for a pot of ink up to 1,750 euros, or $2,220, for an alligator fountain pen with a piston-filling system. Prices jump into the five digits for small trunks designed to house writing paraphernalia.
The pop-up writing shop, occupying part of a space formerly occupied by jeweler Arthus-Bertrand, will ultimately become a permanent feature of Vuitton’s flagship on Saint-Germain, which has long held book signings and readings to exalt the neighborhood’s literary leanings. The store first opened in 1995 and had its first book-related happening in 1998.
The boutique is located between Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots — two storied cafés whose famous habitués included Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus.
Foreshadowing the product launch, last month Vuitton opened a temporary exhibition space around the corner at 170 Boulevard Saint-Germain dedicated to the world of writing via a selection of books and artworks.
The new 750-square-foot shop is to be appointed with antique desks, old Vuitton order ledgers and antique trunks, including one Gaston-Louis Vuitton used to tote his collection of books in the Twenties.
Writing enthusiasts can custom-order their own specialized trunks, or have any products personalized via engravings, stampings or special colors of leather. Bespoke stationery is also available, with an array of specialized fonts, including lavish script resembling calligraphy.
According to Vuitton’s tallies, there are about 1,000 blogs dedicated to writing instruments and ink, and collectors who possess as many as 2,000 pens.