New York-area Louis Vuitton lovers (or any of you planning a visit to the city) are in luck. The brand has just unveiled the Atelier at Louis Vuitton Soho, a customization and artistry shop that celebrates the savoir faire of the brand, as well as performing a few more practical functions. It’s also, as you might imagine, a totally gorgeous space, and I was lucky enough to preview it last week.

Inside Vuitton’s Greene Street flagship, you’ll find a room fill of the Louis Vuitton store experience you know and love, a room dedicated entirely to the art and science of traveling glamorously, and finally a room dedicated to the Atelier, the first space of its kind in the US (as well as, I’m told, the only one so elaborately appointed anywhere in the world). In addition to displaying a selection of Vuitton artwork and archival trunks, including one covered in a painting of a penguin, the Atelier will feature a daily in-house artisan, available to hand-paint customizations on hard-sided luggage, heat stamp monograms onto things like luggage tags and perform minor repairs on customers’ existing Vuitton pieces. For some examples of that work, check out the gallery below.

Even if you don’t have a Louis Vuitton trunk that you’d like to emblazon with your family’s crest (yes, the Soho Atelier is one of only a couple in the world that will do crests!), it’s simply a joy to watch the artist work and inspect the beautifully customized trunks, both historic and contemporary, that line the space’s shelves. An emphasis on personalization and brand history also goes along well with Vuitton’s strategy shift to focusing on a more rarified clientele; I got a luggage tag heat-stamped with my initials on Thursday night at the opening, and having something personalized is a unique luxury shopping experience indeed.

We’ve talked about Louis Vuitton, the business, quite a bit lately, so we thought it might be a nice change of pace to consider, for a moment, Louis Vuitton, the bags. Although the company is in the middle of a strategy change, the bags that are beloved by millions are still there, still being updated and embellished in clever ways to satisfying the ceaseless churn of fashion. For Pre-Fall 2013, that willingness to play on classics has yielded the Louis Vuitton Speedy Damier Paillettes.

The bag comes in a black-and-brown version, below, that mimics the traditional Damier Ebene fabric, but I’m feeling particularly partial to the navy embellishment that you see above. Navy is going to be a huge trend for fall, but it’s slightly under the radar now, and this kind of slightly sparkly nod to the look is a perfect way to experiment. The navy leather handles and clochette are also a nice touch, and as always, a big advantage Damier is that the trim isn’t vachetta and won’t wear as obviously as it does on the monogram bags. (I personally like how the vachetta wears, but my opinion on that subject is far from universally held.)

These bags likely won’t inspire love from people who think Vuitton’s signature moves are getting old, but the brand has a wide, ardent base of customers who love designs exactly like this one. Personally, I think all bag lovers need at least one Speedy in their collections, and for some of you, this one might be it. When Pre-Fall 2013 bags hit stores soon, you’ll be able to pick this one up for $2,360 via Louis Vuitton. For now, you can shop the brand via its official website.

Louis Vuitton Damier Sequin Speedy Bag Black

Do not adjust your television set. There is nothing wrong with your web browser. Your eyes do not deceive you, today’s featured bag-loving celeb is…a man. And what a man! Here’s Hugh Jackman in full-on Wolverine mode, tossing his Louis Vuitton Damier Graphite Keepall Bandouliere 55 Bag into a taxi in NYC. A hot man with a hot designer bag…ladies, don’t be alarmed if your panties suddenly burst into flames. You can get this versatile Louis Vuitton piece for $1,600 at Louis Vuitton.

I far prefer this LV bag to the traditional monogrammed pieces we’ve seen on PB in recent weeks. While all Vuitton’s travel pieces are unisex (in theory), this bag is certainly masculine enough to compete with Hugh’s rippling biceps. The checkered Damier Graphite pattern is far more unassuming, and the print doesn’t even scream Louis Vuitton quite so loudly (though the full LV name is certainly on there). It looks less like a flashy status symbol, and more like a high-end gym bag. And what could be manlier than that?

The last time we mentioned Louis Vuitton’s exclusivity problem, you guys had a lot to say, and much of it was demonstrative of the challenges that Vuitton faces going forward – how does a company whose incredibly recognizable logo bags have become ubiquitous maintain its air of exclusivity for top-tier customers? And if those top-tier customers leave, will customers at the lower tiers go looking for their little slice of luxury elsewhere? Is this a problem that Louis Vuitton has waited too long to fix? Based on the double-digit dip that the company’s value took last year, things could be better at LVMH’s flagship brand. (more…)

It’s only the best for any pooch that travels with LaToya Jackson. Here she is coming out of a hotel in New York, carrying her adorable Pomeranian in a Louis Vuitton Dog Carrier. (Sadly, there’s no “first class” for celeb dogs in cargo. Though I suspect this fluffy baby gets her own seat on the plane.) If there’s a toy dog in your life that appreciates high-end luxury, you can purchase this carrier from the Louis Vuitton website for $2,430.

We can’t put a solid ID on LaToya’s Louis Vuitton tote, but we’re guessing it’s a vintage design that’s no longer made. The patina on the leather trim would certainly seem to indicate that LaToya’s had this bag in her collection for a fairly long time. Fortunately for all LV fans, those signature monograms never fade (with proper care). Louis Vuitton experts, feel free to weigh in with your best guesses!

Louis Vuitton will never let us down when it comes to finding a way to add in its iconic monogram logo onto each new season of bags. It’s part of the genius behind the brand; the company has a knack for continuously showing us its logo on anything and everything they create. Maybe you aren’t into the logo, but clearly millions of people are, and that’s clear from the massive sales numbers and easily recognizable monogram. Personally, I tend to stay away from the logo, but when LV does it well, it lures me into thinking I need a seasonal piece that is every bit as “Louis Vuitton” as it is trendy.

The Louis Vuitton Noefull MM caught my attention with its ikat floral print and seamless combination of the Neverfull and Neoe bags from the brand. The drawstring closure allows the bag to expand to resemble the ever popular Neverfull tote, but with a pinch of the drawstring, you end up with another classic, the Noe. When the two come together, it makes for a chic marriage of the two classics, dubbed the Noefull. Not only is the shape pretty cool, but the floral ikat canvas print is chic as well. I love how the monogram seamlessly flows within the color scheme. The price isn’t as friendly: buy via Louis Vuitton for $1,770.

Louis Vuitton Noefull MM Expanded

The more people get used to shopping for luxury goods online, the more they want options, especially when it comes to things that are vintage, pre-owned or no longer available in regular stores. (Or sold in very limited retail locations, like Louis Vuitton or Chanel.) Several types services, from dedicated luxury re-sellers like Portero to flash sale sites like Rue La La, to traditional auction houses like Heritage Auctions that now offer online options for luxury goods, have sprung up to meet those desires, but some retailers like ShopBop are taking the search for vintage designer handbags into their own hands.

ShopBop has been working with vintage stalwart What Goes Around, Comes Around for several years, and in the past, the handbag offerings have included lots of Chanel and one or two Hermes pieces. ShopBop has now added a small selection of limited edition and discontinued Louis Vuitton pieces to that assortment, including sought-after pieces from the Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami art collaborations. Below, we’ve included our favorite from all of the What Goes Around, Comes Around pieces at ShopBop, or you can check out the entire vintage offering at ShopBop.

Here’s Alexa Chung once again, prowling the streets of Manhattan with an adorable black Chanel Mini Classic Flap Bag and a customized Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Keepall Bag. We just spotted Alexa last week towing her Mon Monogram Pegase Suitcase around NYC. Interestingly enough, her Pegase is customized with completely different colors than her Keepall. You can get your own customized Mon Monogram Keepall for $1,650 from Louis Vuitton.

Alexa’s Chanel Mini is a particular favorite of hers – to tour the rest of her bag stash, check out “The Many Bags of Alexa Chung”! How do you feel about color-mixing your customized designer pieces, PB readers?

Alexa Chung carries a Chanel Mini Classic Flap Bag and Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Keepall Bag (1) Alexa Chung carries a Chanel Mini Classic Flap Bag and Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Keepall Bag (2) Alexa Chung carries a Chanel Mini Classic Flap Bag and Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Keepall Bag (3) Alexa Chung carries a Chanel Mini Classic Flap Bag and Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Keepall Bag (4)

As a real, live single woman in her 20s who is dating in New York City, I make a lot of small talk with dudes who I don’t know very well. Almost invariably, when a dude finds out what I do for a living, first he wants to tell me about that time where he spent an “exorbitant” amount of money (usually less than $600 – straight guys and their bags are so adorable) on a bag that he actually loves, and it was totally worth it, so he understands the whole handbag thing. After that, guys usually ask what men’s bags I think are the best, and I sputter for a few seconds. Given some time to think about it, though, my vote would go to Louis Vuitton.

I don’t think that Vuitton’s are necessarily the highest quality available on the planet or the most of-the-moment, but when you consider the fine materials used, the absolutely enormous selection of shapes and sizes, and the generally restrained, modern look of the bags, I think LV gives dude bag lovers the world over the best set of options available. I mean, just look at that Louis Vuitton Naxos Keepall 45 Bandouliere up there. It’s sedate, incredibly luxurious and totally classic. It’s hard to say that truthfully about any bag, men’s or women’s, but that’s often what Vuitton accomplishes with its men’s designs, especially in leather. You can pick up one for $4,850 via Louis Vuitton.

What about you? Have an indie brand you like? Prefer a company that keeps things a little more affordable? Let us know in the comments.

Here’s one of my fave funny gals, Rebel Wilson, mucking about in midtown Manhattan and carrying a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Speedy 30 Bag. I love how Rebel’s stripe and monogram customization perfectly match the shade of her lip color. Rebel is the second celeb we’ve seen rocking the Mon Monogram this week – Alexa Chung was spotted ferrying her customized LV suitcase around Manhattan mere days ago. You can get your own Speedy 30 with full customization for $1,240 at Louis Vuitton.

No word on what Rebel was up to in NYC, but we suspect she might be doing a little promotion for her upcoming flick with Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Pain & Gain.

Rebel Wilson carries a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Speedy Bag in NYC (1) Rebel Wilson carries a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Speedy Bag in NYC (2) Rebel Wilson carries a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Speedy Bag in NYC (3) Rebel Wilson carries a Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Speedy Bag in NYC (4)

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