Exclusive: Louis Vuitton Takes On The Tote For Its New Bag

Louis Vuitton's first new bag style in three years mixes business with pleasure in a high-performance twist.

Louis Vuitton, bag, (866) 884-8866

Louis Vuitton, bag, (866) 884-8866

You know the tote is officially, definitively a major bag genre when Louis Vuitton makes it the shape of its first entirely new release in three years. Creative director Marc Jacobs’ latest addition to the global empire, joining the universally obsessed-over Speedy, Alma and Neverfull, is the W, a top-handle tote of contrasting leathers, so named for the shape of the seams. Take your pick from the classic monogram (clutched by a wickedly garçonne Michelle Williams in the ads), a lemon-bright yellow leather, and the special-edition burgundy and brown leather embellished with abstract checkered flowers (our favorite, pictured above).

“[It’s] designed using a technique called tuffetage, which recalls the way a carpet is made,” says Jacobs, explaining the bag’s patchwork process. “Squares of fabric were embroidered, and then the threads were cut to give a velvet relief on leather and mesh. All embroidery is subtle, while being very beautiful.” It’s the everyday tote remade as an extravagance—Jessica Alba, Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker are already jamming theirs with the quotidian stuff that fuels the working woman.

For Jacobs, the cachet is in the details. “The flowers give a little relief to the rigidity of the checks,” he says of the design, which recalls the ’60s-inspired spring ’13 line’s bold checkerboards and oversized silhouetted rose (a daintier predecessor got scattered over voluminous ball-gown skirts in 2010—a leitmotif?). “These flowers are not soft and romantic, but very graphic,” Jacobs says, making the W a structured jolt of daytime dressing to pair with Vuitton’s silky-smooth boudoir-inspired fall collection. Consider this a practical step in the direction of stealth opulence.