The world in a bag: History of the Louis Vuitton Noé
True to its name, the Louis Vuitton Noé is one of the brand's most versatile and an all-time favorite among LV collectors. We totally understand why; if needed, one could bring the entire world with them in the Noé without worry about the turbulent winds of modern life. While the original purpose of the bag might not be relevant anymore, it derives its long-lasting success to its functionality, its elegance and its efficiency: even full to the brim, it resists the strain thanks to its solid leather base in natural cowhide leather, finished with a refined saddle stitch.
From busy career women to hard-working moms always on the go, Noé's modern design has been sported by fashionable celebrities such as Dakota Johnson, Megan Fox, Sienna Miller and Angelina Jolie. In 2017, a new take on this LV classic bag was released in the form of the Louis Vuitton NéoNoé: the bag's original leather trim bottom was removed and the interior lining in contrasting colors was added, giving it a sleeker silhouette. Since then, the bag has been released in countless different materials and colors.
History of the Louis Vuitton Noé
The Louis Vuitton Noé is considered to be the brand's second oldest handbag. Its history dates back to 1832, when Gaston-Louis Vuitton, grandson of the founder, received a request from an acquaintance in the champagne industry. The winemaker wanted a chic yet solid bag to suit the needs of his most devoted customers.
Picnic lunches, automobile excursions, exquisite banquets... this bag had to be able to be transported around without risking breakage or damage to the picnic basket, the silverware and precious crystal glasses squeezed in around the bottles. In its original design, still used today, the wide reinforced rectangular base in vachetta leather was designed to hold up to five champagne bottles while the drawstring closure secures them in place by their necks.
Even its name reflects its utilitarian design: Noé in French refers the biblical figure of Noah, who built an ark in order to survive a catastrophic flood. After saving his family and all animals from the storm, the biblical patriarch planted grapevines on mount Ararat and became the first winemaker. See the spirited connection?
The first prototype of the Noé can be traced back to the Sac à Linge. Cut from a simple cotton canvas, this softly curved cylinder appeared for the first time in the trunk-maker's 1892 catalogue. This design grew increasingly more sophisticated in the next two decades, bolstered by the fashion for sport and seaside vacations under the name Sac Marin.
All that was left for Gaston-Louis was to adapt this successful design to its new purpose: he needed to find a stronger material that could resist the weight of several champagne bottles and tolerate long-term use. He got to the idea of using a naturally tanned cowhide leather and replaced the original handle with an adjustable shoulder strap for comfortable carrying. This bag proved so popular that almost immediately it was made available in three sizes: small medium and large.
Twenty years after its release, the Louis Vuitton Noé joined the growing family of city bags by being released in the iconic Monogram Canvas, and from then on it has been reinterpreted in countless materials and colors to suit different fashions.
This bag's functionality and durability have made it a long lasting success, especially among the Japanese public, who favour the smaller model which is essentially a modern take of a traditional kimono pouch. This is why it's not too hard to find a preloved Noé bag in great condition in the Japanese market.
Worldwide recognition elevated this bag to the rank of best seller for a good part of the 90s and even today it continues to capture people's hearts in the form of the new Louis Vuitton NeoNoé.
Versatile like no other: Guide to the Noé sizes
The classic Louis Vuitton Sac Noé is distinguished by the characteristic closure by a leather drawstring. Depending on the model, the handle and the base are made of natural cowhide vachetta leather while the body's material is sturdy canvas, either in Monogram or Damier print.
The canvas on the main body is made of waterproof, scuff proof and tear proof material, making it exceptionally durable. For those who don't want to worry about water marks on the vachetta leather, the Noé has been released in a multitude of colors in Epi Leather Canvas. The leather strap adjusts for comfortable shoulder wear. On the inside, every Noé has one large compartment, without side-pockets or dividers: you don't have to use it to transport champagne to appreciate how functional, yet chic this bag is. You can pack the Louis Vuitton Sac Noé as much as you want and be assured it will not never lose its shape.
While it hasn't been released in the same amount of limited editions as the more famous Alma, Speedy or Keepall, over the years it has been re-imagined in various new styles, from the Nano Noé to the recent NeoNoé.
The classic Louis Vuitton Noé measures 26 x 34 x 19 cm (width x height x depth) and is thus perfectly suited for everyday use. There are two smaller sizes of this bag: the Petit Noé and the Noé BB. In spring 2017 the bag was reimagined in the form of the new NéoNoé with the more sleek shape.
The Louis Vuitton Noé is relatively affordable compared to other designer bags: retail prices range from as little as $1100 to over $3000 for special editions, while preloved models are usually found ranging around $450-$500. When shopping for a vintage Noé we recommend you pay special attention to the condition of the strap and the vachetta leather lip at the opening of the bag, as those areas will get the most wear in every day use.
A look to the past: The many styles of the LV Noé
Despite not being released in as many versions as other more famous items, the Noé has had its share of inspired looks over the years: let's take a look!
1) Cherry Red Mini Lin Monogram Noelie
Released in spring 2003
2) Damier Azur Tahitienne Nano Noé
Released in spring 2017
Original retail price $1100
3) Light Denim Epi Noé
Released in spring/summer 2017
Original retail price $3100
4) Ivorie Monogram Jungle Neonoé
Released in spring/summer 2019
Original retail price $2080
5) Double Jeu Neonoé in Cranberry Monogram Leather
Released in fall/winter 2010
Original retail price $4040
6) Tricolor Epi Leather Nano Noé
Released in Fall/Winter 2015
Original retail price $1200
7) Monogram Rayures Noé
Released in fall/winter 2011
Original retail price $1800
8) Black Monogram Multicolore Petit Noé
Released in spring/summer 2003
Original retail price $2720
9) Summer Trunks Neonoé in Monogram Canvas
Released in spring/summer 2018
Original retail price $1950
10) Japan Limited Edition VVN Vachetta Noé
Released in 1993
Original retail price $3000
How to tell if your Noé bag is authentic
1) Louis Vuitton heat-stamped details
The main Louis Vuitton company heat-stamp is very important for authentication, just by looking at it often times it is possible to determine if a bag is authentic or a fake. The lettering should be very crisp and the letters should be perfectly aligned. The Os should be very round and look bigger than the L, and the Ts should be placed very close, almost touching.
2) Louis Vuitton hardware
In general, most fake Louis Vuitton bags will have very poor-quality hardware, often times it’s just metal coated plastic. Authentic hardware should be constructed in high quality metals and have clean and crisp lettering.
3) Louis Vuitton date code
All Louis Vuitton bags before the early 1980s did not come with a date code. But most Louis Vuitton bags currently in circulation will have a date code either on interior tags or directly on the interior linings. The Noé has it's date code usually on a chape or even directly on the side of the strap. This placement can cause the date code to wear off with use but there should still be some remnants even if the letters have been rendered illegible.
With such a long and rich history, there is no doubt the Louis Vuitton Noé is here to stay. This bag is durable, practical and, among all, stylish. It might not make the best candidate in terms of investment but it certainly the best shoulder bag you could get for everyday use. We cannot recommend enough to take a look at the preloved market on this one: there are so many pieces in incredible condition, you wouldn't want to miss out!
Unfortunately, when you look for popular Louis Vuitton bags there is always the risk of running into counterfeits or “fakes”. It is therefore important that you shop your preloved Noé from a trusted supplier with a substantial history of dealing with vintage luxury.