March 20, 2019
By Noelani Piters
HOW TO SPOT REAL LOUIS VUITTON MONOGRAMSHOP OUR BEST LV MONOGRAM
If there’s a monogram that truly needs no introduction, it’s Louis Vuitton’s. Once an iconic symbol of international travel, the interlocking LV and floral motif is now a universal denotation of luxury. It’s graced everything from steamer trunks to belt bags and has been flaunted by celebrities on and off the screen. Today, Nicolas Ghesquière and Virgil Abloh are in charge of continuing its legacy and making the monogram more ubiquitous than it already is.
Due to its coveted status, Louis Vuitton’s monogram is one of the most counterfeited logos to date. So how can you know real from faux? Take a walk through the Louis Vuitton monogram hall of fame and read Chief Authenticator Graham Wetzbarger’s tips for spotting the real deal.
Louis Vuitton Monogram
The original Louis Vuitton monogram dates back to 1896, when Louis Vuitton’s son Georges designed a signature motif to (ironically) foil counterfeiters. “On all Louis Vuitton monogram pieces, the pattern should be perfectly aligned and symmetrical,” says Wetzbarger. “There’s a myth that if the monogram is cut off, it’s inauthentic, but due to design, some smaller leather goods will clip the monogram.”
The biggest tell when authenticating Louis Vuitton monogram pieces is the vachetta leather trim. “Vachetta leather is untreated European calf hide, and it ages and patinates in a very specific way,” details Wetzbarger. “Counterfeits often use synthetic leather that never oxidizes, or they use poorly treated leather that does not possess the unique characteristics of genuine vachetta. If vachetta leather is lightly scratched, you can buff it out with your hand. That does not apply to leathers of inferior quality.”
Louis Vuitton Catogram
Louis Vuitton’s late 2018 collaboration with Grace Coddington is arguably the cutest monogram to date: the Catogram. Inspired by the pets of both Coddington and Louis Vuitton women’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, the collection features cats and dogs popping up between initials and fleurs, while minute mice scurry across the linings of bags. And the bold orange monogram is a reference to the unmistakable mane of Coddington.
As with all Louis Vuitton pieces, the details are what designate real from faux. “When inspecting bags from the Catogram collection, the cat and dog accents are raised, and should not be debossed or stamped,” says Wetzbarger. “And on pieces that feature the white Catogram pattern, note that under 300% magnification, the monogram is actually made up of cyan, yellow and magenta hues.”
Louis Vuitton Vernis
Louis Vuitton Vernis has certainly seen its fair share of the spotlight. First introduced in 1997 by freshly appointed creative director Marc Jacobs, Vernis (French for “varnish”) has emerged in nearly every color imaginable. The glossy, embossed patent leather most commonly features the monogram, though Louis Vuitton creates Vernis Damier pieces as well.
When it comes to spotting real Vernis monogram pieces, it’s imperative to note that not every Louis Vuitton bag has been crafted with Vernis. “Vernis has a select style range,” notes Wetzbarger. “There has never been a Vernis Speedy or a Vernis Neverfull, for example. Counterfeiters will use Vernis-like material to make certain styles that have never existed, or create colorways that Louis Vuitton has never used.” Also double check the texture. “Fake Vernis pieces can appear very puffy,” adds Wetzbarger. “The depth of the imprint is usually what counterfeiters get wrong.”
Louis Vuitton Multicolore
During Marc Jacobs’ tenure at Louis Vuitton, he tapped multiple artists to create unique riffs on the Louis Vuitton monogram. A frequent collaborator was neo-pop artist Takashi Murakami, and the Multicolore line is perhaps his most iconic. Multicolore pieces hit the market in 2003 and were included in the permanent collection until 2015, when it was discontinued.
“Louis Vuitton Multicolore pieces will always have 33 colors, except for bags and wallets with a smaller design that cannot fit them all,” says Wetzbarger. “On counterfeits, you’ll see far fewer. Because there are so many colors, none (or few) should repeat on genuine Multicolore pieces.” Another big tell is in the pattern itself. “A contrasting fleur will be included at the upper right of the LV initials,” says Wetzbarger. “On many fakes, the fleur and LV initials will match.”
Louis Vuitton Monogramouflage
One of Louis Vuitton’s rarest monograms is the Monogramouflage, another Takashi Murakami design. The Monogramouflage made a grand debut in 2008 at the Brooklyn Museum for one of Murakami’s shows. Within the show, a Louis Vuitton pop-up sold limited edition Monogramouflage canvasses, as well as Murakami-designed Monogram Cerises and Multicolore pieces, resulting in an unprecedented art-meets-commerce experience.
Nowadays, Monogramouflage pieces resell for much higher than their retail price. When inspecting a Louis Vuitton Monogramouflage bag, make sure the tan and olive green colors are a tad muted. “The colors on fakes are often too saturated,” notes Wetzbarger. “There will be too much yellow or green present on them.”
Louis Vuitton Infrarouge
A dramatic black and red defines the Monogram Infrarouge, Nicolas Ghesquière’s first adaptation of the LV monogram. It premiered on the Spring 2015 runway, and while it seemed to vanish from LV’s offerings as quickly as it appeared, its effects were everlasting.
“This bold colorway opened the door for Kim Jones to experiment with color for future men’s collections during his time at LV,” says Wetzbarger. “The few Infrarouge women’s styles that LV produced were only manufactured for a year and a half, so quantities were limited. The Pochette Metis and the Palm Springs Mini backpack are the most coveted by collectors.” Infrarouge also adorned women’s Petite Malles, Soft Doras and Alma bags, as well as men’s belts and other leather goods. “Similarly to Vernis, Louis Vuitton did not create certain bags with Infrarouge,” notes Wetzbarger, “so if you see an Infrarouge Neverfull, it’s a major red flag.”
Louis Vuitton Galaxy
Louis Vuitton’s space-inspired Galaxy collection for men hit during the holidays last year. Four new bag styles — inspired by astronaut gear — emerged with the starry monogram, including the Alpha backpack, Alpha Hobo, Alpha Messenger and a Bumbag (or belt bag).
“When authenticating pieces from Louis Vuitton’s Galaxy collection, note that the monogram itself is patterned as well,” says Wetzbarger. “The monogram coloring varies so that it’s always visible against the galaxy print. Also, double check the stitching — the pattern should not cover the stitching.”
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