Read This If You Love Louis Vuitton Luggage

Who doesn’t love the Golden Age of Travel? When there existed Pan Am, and flight attendants (then called stewardesses) wore white gloves? Today they wear rubber gloves.

There are even a select group of discriminating travelers who are on a constant quest for vintage Louis Vuitton luggage – pieces that can cost about $12,000 to $15,000 each. So where can you find these inimitable icons? Just head to New York this Yuletide season and check out the “Christmas Tree” made of 15 LV trunks assembled to make a perfect A-frame.

This year, Sofitel New York takes  holiday décor to new heights – high fashion, that is. The Midtown Manhattan hotel, renowned for its rotating lobby exhibitions featuring everything from art to fashion, sprinkles nostalgia in its interior.  Blending culture and design, pillars that convey the essence of the Sofitel brand, a Christmas Couture display will transform the hotel’s lobby into a fashion maison, an invitation to “live the French way.”

Standing tall in the lobby’s rotunda is a Christmas tree made entirely of French vintage Louis Vuitton trunks. It’s one heck of a unique “pop-up shop.”  Designed and curated by The Well Traveled Trunk, a company that sources antique trunks, the tree showcases leather pieces that tell the fascinating tales of royalty and great explorers who used the trunks to travel the world. Every piece is more than 100 years old. The one-of-a-kind  holiday display offers guests a stylish holiday experience with a touch of French “Art de vivre.”

Alexandre Soleyman, the founder of The Well Traveled Trunk, spoke to me in an exclusive interview for  Mr. Soleyman created his company about three years ago, and scours the internet – and online auctions and estate sales — to discover Louis Vuitton “that is 100 years old or older.” He added, “People come to the USA to sell a piece they found in their attic – or got from their grandmother.” Who buys such beauties? “They’re not for everyone,” he explains. He says that typically, buyers pay anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 per piece of vintage luggage. “Each piece of Louis Vuitton luggage has a serial number to show when it was manufactured.”

(On your next trip to Paris, you might also score a vintage LV at the famous French flea market, Porte de Clignancourt, where, whenever I go, I discover all kinds of vintage luxury designer merchandise.)

Each piece of luggage making up the Sofitel Christmas tree is for sale through The Well Traveled Trunk. “We ship by FedEx nationwide,” he explains. The company also acquires vintage luxury luggage made by Goyard and Hermes.

Of course, the Sofitel New York is famous for being a repository of all-things-French. The 30-story, limestone-and-glass tower showcases Neo Art Deco interiors by renowned French designed Pierre-Yves Rochon, which blend the formality of an upscale private club with the warmth of a gracious home. Guests enter through an expansive lobby whose sleek lines evoke the timeless style of the nearby Chrysler Building. Its dramatic curved staircase, green marble fireplaces, vibrantly patterned carpets and shelves filled with French and American art books exemplifies the creative energy of the Manhattan art world.

 The hotel also features a distinctive French brasserie, Gaby Brasserie Francaise.

Each department of the hotel also offers a French-speaking ambassador,  while accommodations  feature amenities by Lanvin in the guest rooms, and Hermes in the suites.

Speaking of Hermes, this famous  French luxury brand also offers what some people say is the ultimate leather handbag and the world’s most prestigious pocketbook: The Birkin. If you want to know more about this crave-worthy purse, I suggest reading a fabulous book by Michael Tonello called Bringing Home The Birkin. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of Mr. Tonello’s hilarious worldwide quest to obtain genuine new and old Birkin bags (which typically have waiting lists in the stores).

But back to Louis Vuitton. Remarkably, the designer brand recently launched a sneaker trunk for all of your famous footwear.

So here’s the million-dollar question: Do buyers of vintage LV luggage actually use it in their travels? Mr. Soleyman laughed and said, “The steamer-size trunk will make the most durable coffee table you will ever own.”

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