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Uncovering The Secrets Of LV's Mini Trunk Clutch - 'Petite Malle'

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

The 'Petite Malle' (small trunk) by Louis Vuitton has got to be one of my favourite bags by LV.

Designed by Nicolas Ghesquière, this mini trunk is complex to build and fabulously expensive.

They have used their 160+ years of trunk making experience into crafting a small clutch bag - with a few modern advancements.

I want to share with you some of the techniques that I have observed. Hopefully this will bring about some new ideas for designs and inspire you to try some of these out on your own projects.

But first, the case:

Overall dimensions are 4.4″ L x 7.9″ W x 2.2″ D

The construction of this bag starts with a wooden base or 'carcass' with which the exterior leather, coated canvas or exotic skin is glued on to.

Here you can see the wooden carcass frame which will be wrapped in LV's famous monogram canvas. It appears that the exterior parts are stitched together prior to wrapping and riveting.

If you look closely to the edges of the plywood frame, you can see scorch marks from being laser cut.

The plywood appears to be around 3-4mm, so this makes a lot of sense and ensures accuracy while saving time.

In the example above the craftsman is wrapping the wooden frame with what appears to be alligator skin. The holes going through the skin and wooden carcass will be for rivets and strap attachments.

I believe this to be the smallest 'Petite Malle' which opens from the top compared to the later larger size that opens down the centre (seen below).

A birds eye view of all the ingredients that go into this micro bag. Much like it's bigger trunk brother, the Petite Malle has almost as many parts, all requiring hand assembly. This is one of the reasons for the high price.

You can see the inner lining with it's criss-cross pattern reminiscent of LV's quilted trunk lid interiors, known as malletage. (Side note, looks like LV are using Eprose tools now).

Even the closures are a micro version of a full size trunk.

A craftsman secures the alligator wrap by gluing in a turnover inside the case. Note that there appears to be a beige coloured cellulose board placed inside the case (difficult to see because it looks like wood).

I am assuming that this is to fill the distance between the wooden carcass and the tops of each rivet/screw. This will presumably ensure full glue contact for the lining without seeing any bumps from the screw heads.

And finally, the dust bag it comes in:

Much like the luggage of old, this mini trunk has it's own canvas protection bag complete with leather corner protectors.

This used to be standard issue with luxury luggage when travelling by car/boat/train/plane as you wouldn't want to scratch your priceless cases now would you?

I love how Vuitton has included this rather nostalgic nod to it's past, and incorporated it into a dust bag.

I hope this has given you some ideas or at least provided some food for thought.

Interested in learning some of these techniques and similar skills here on the Leathercraft Masterclass?

We offer you courses that will empower you to take on fine leathercraft projects and create items you never thought possible.

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Courses such as 'The Bloomsbury Attache Case' offer you guidance on case making, attaching locks, riveting and wrapping leather around wooden board.

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I wonder what kind of results could be had from a USD500 CNC mill and a chunk of brass to make one's own customized Chicago screws. This seems easy enough to do on a USD100 3D printer.


@Edward I am not certain from the pictures, but I suspect that they are custom made Chicago screws that mimic the dome head of a trunk rivet.


There is a concept I'm trying to come to terms with. I know I like a bag within five seconds of looking at it. I'm drawn in to take a longer and closer look. Ghurka used to make a bag like this. Mulholland Brothers also used to make something of this sort. Swaine Adeney Brigg still does. Such bags seem to be drawn from a very simple human perspective, not from clever fold-up design techniques, which once known, simplify the "manufacturing" process. Because of this simple human perspective, there seems to be little way around time-consuming manual steps to complete the bag. The bag doesn't conform to the dictates of machines but to the human mind. These are bags I like…


What kind of rivets are used? Are they solid brass that must be peened (doesn't look like it)? Are the force-fit with male and female ends? Or are they Chicago-screw style with male and female threaded ends?

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