The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

The Sevillian who designs the most desired luxury bags


Over the past 20 years, Johnny Coca has created some of the most famous bags in the world. Since 2020 he has been the director of the Louis Vuitton women's accessories line, which has just broken an all-time sales record

A week after this interview, Bernard Arnault, the richest man in the world, owner of the luxury brand conglomerate LVMH, announced the group's profits in 2022: 79.2 billion euros.


holding company

, which does not usually specify how much each of its firms has sold, made an exception with Louis Vuitton: the brand had billed 20,000 million.

Never has a luxury banner reached such a figure in its history, and it has also done so in the midst of the global economic crisis and with the Asian market at half throttle.

“I have been slow to expose myself, but now is the right time, after having made several collections.

You already know what I do and, furthermore, it is working well”, explains Johnny Coca in one of the rooms of the Louis Vuitton headquarters, facing the Parisian Pont Neuf.

Well, it falls far short, considering that Coca is perhaps largely responsible for the fact that the brand has blown up all sales forecasts.

In May 2020, at the height of the pandemic, this Sevillian designer was appointed director of the firm's women's accessories line, that is, he is in charge of designing the bags, the house's flagship product.

He also the glasses and, from this year, the jewelry.

“Because I suppose that when things work, they give you more responsibility.

Now I will have to manage a bigger team”, he comments.

The S-Lock XL, a rigid bag model decorated with the metal rivets of the suitcases.Anna Huix

Coca is something like a King Midas in the shadows (this is, in fact, the first interview he has given since he held the position in the banner).

In addition, he has experienced first-hand what the press later called the luxury wars, that moment, 20 years ago, when two large conglomerates, LVMH and the Kering group, began to acquire renowned brands at low times to reposition them and, with this, configure the panorama of current fashion, with its characters and its market dynamics.

“Actually, I started at Louis Vuitton in 1996 ″, he comments in almost perfect Spanish with a strong English accent.

“I came to Paris to study Architecture, although I had always been interested in fashion.

You know, for a Spaniard, coming here to study fashion, without contacts, is complicated, ”he recalls.

“A couple of years later, to help out a friend,

I started working on the windows, I drew them, and I drew the bags and how they had to be placed.

That's how I got to collaborate on some of Louis Vuitton, and I loved it.

One day I dared to contact Yves Carcelle to show them to him”.

Carcelle was the magician who worked the miracle of Louis Vuitton;

who, in his years as CEO, at the turn of the century, managed to turn a classic leather goods firm into the great giant of contemporary luxury: he hired Marc Jacobs in 1997 to create the ready-to-wear lines and


the pioneer in orchestrating the very lucrative collaborations between artists (Murakami, Sprouse, Kusama…) and designers.

“He told me: 'Do you want to start working?'

And he hired me for the accessories team.

I didn't even know it was such a famous brand”, continues Coca.

“I hadn't finished the race yet, but I lied.

And I finished it in secret while I was working, because it was a condition that my mother gave me: finish my degree”.

Coca, in his new office, to which he has just moved.Anna Huix

After five years learning to design bags, LVMH sent Coca to take charge of the accessories for another of those historic firms that the


she had bought to resurrect her attractiveness, Celine.

Few remember, but then it was directed by Michael Kors.

“I was 26 years old, and I left there when he left, in 2004. I wanted to go to Italy, because, if I was a bag designer, I had to travel there to see first-hand the manufacturing process.

First I was in Bali and then Dawn Mello contacted me”, says Coca.

Mello was the woman in charge of reviving Gucci when her reputation was in low hours.

“She was the one who hired Tom Ford.

But I was not aligned with the new directive, we did not think alike, ”she comments, alluding to the moment when Kering finally took over the majority of the Gucci shares, and which also marked the beginning of the end for Ford.

They were the early 2000s, the years in which McQueen, Galliano, Jacobs or Ford himself were true global stars, names that had made fashion fashionable again among the general public, but they were also the years in which the big brands began to fill the coffers by selling accessories.

Each brand struggled to create a bag with its own name, which became known as the

it bag phenomenon.

, which would allow them to increase their turnover in order to continue developing the rest of their product lines.

And there was Coca, at the right time and the right place: “One day they called me and said: 'Do you want to go back to Celine?

A new creative director just came in, Phoebe Philo, you have to meet her.'

I went to London to see her and we connected instantly.

We thought alike, we both wanted to change the traditional architecture of bags, break the limits”, recalls the Sevillian designer.

Some of the new designs he has made for the spring collection.

Anna Huix

The rest is recent fashion history.

Coca was the creator of the Phantom bag, the Cabas or the mythical Trapeze, best-selling models that opened the door to a more conceptual and intellectualized type of luxury accessory.

Almost a decade later, those of his creations continue to be revalued.

When Philo decided to leave Celine, Johnny Coca went with her.

Shortly after, in 2018, he signed on as the global creative director of Mulberry, the banner that represents the quintessence of British leather goods.

“I wanted to know how luxury worked in all its aspects, not just in the accessories, but in the whole image,” he says.

And in March 2020 he received a call from Delphine Arnault, daughter of the owner of LVMH and, until a month ago, CEO of Louis Vuitton.

“She told me: 'Do you want to come back?'

And I felt that it was time, to go back to where I started,

but with all the experience that had been accumulating;

It was a more personal decision than anything else."

The designer manipulates several leather prototypes with the banner's monogram.Anna Huix

Although the sales numbers have ended up proving him right, the challenge that was presented to Coca almost three years ago was not easy at all.

Louis Vuitton has had a series of absolutely recognizable mythical models for decades.

Thus, introducing any small novelty can alter the future of the firm, not always for the better.

But the Sevillian designer has always been clear about how to proceed at all times and in the face of any challenge: "You never ever have to look at what others are doing," he says.

“To know what people want, you don't have to look at what other brands do.

You have to go down to the street, have a drink and observe.

There are women with children who need to carry practical bags where they can fit everything and others, on the other hand, who prefer something smaller and more modern.

Women who take the subway and others who walk or drive.

Detail of a bag from the Petite Malle line, inspired by the historical trunks of Louis Vuitton.Anna Huix

His training in Architecture also makes him approach his designs with a long-term vision.

“People don't want new things all the time anymore, they want something they can wear for 10 years.

A bag or glasses are not a table, but somehow you also live with them.

I like to say that it is like cooking: first the structure, then the material... but in the end, for a good paella to come out, you have to know in what proportion and at what time to add the ingredients.

When I returned here, they told me: 'You have them all, here you have the archive, the material, the workshop;

now what you need is to see how to combine it to make something new”.

He assures, however, that he does not feel pressure.

“The pressure is what you put on yourself.

There are brands that need to launch many new accessories every season.

Here, instead, we launch only those that,

Johnny Coca poses with some of his new designs, which play to change size conventions: from toiletry bags turned into travel bags to trunks turned into handbags.

Anna Huix

Coca likes to mix leather and metal, making ductile models that at first glance seem rigid and vice versa.

She claims that she can't stop thinking about her work.

“When I have designed something, I think about the following, I imagine things even when I sleep.

My mother always tells me to stop scheming, ”she points out.

Now her imagination has run wild.

“I am in a place where everything is possible.

To Nicolas [Ghesquière, creative director of


female] I present 27 prototypes for the parade and the workshop has them ready in a week”, he explains.

And for this reason, since at Louis Vuitton everything is possible, Johnny Coca has set himself an enormous challenge: “That it is impossible to copy us, because we are one of the most copied brands in the world.

I try to make things that are extremely complicated to manufacture, that only we can do, but that are also practical for the client.

Everyone here tests the product before launching it," he comments, "and they look carefully so that, if something breaks, the owner can come whenever he wants to have it fixed easily, because, in the end, that's what luxury is."

Detail of the shelves that decorate the designer's office. Anna Huix

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits

Keep reading

I'm already a subscriber

Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-21

You may like

News/Politics 2023-03-21T07:14:54.873Z
Life/Entertain 2022-12-17T14:07:11.917Z
News/Politics 2023-01-02T10:59:51.818Z

Trends 24h

News/Politics 2023-05-29T17:01:57.437Z
News/Politics 2023-05-29T09:13:12.102Z
News/Politics 2023-05-29T06:20:53.392Z


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.