A History of Louis Vuitton’s Papillon Bag

The Papillon is one of the oldest Louis Vuitton bags out there, yet it continues to command great appeal among lovers of the brand. It was created over 50 years ago and is available in variant colors, materials, and designs. Over the years, several celebrities have been spotted wearing this bag including such big names as Lauren Conrad, Chloe Sevigny, Wu Xuanyi, and Victoria Beckham.

a history of louis vuitton papillon bag

The designer of the Papillon is Henry Racamier, husband to Louis Vuitton’s great-granddaughter. He unveiled the bag in 1966 and it has remained a hit from that moment onwards. The bag’s design is inspired by the butterfly, because the name, “Papillon” is a French word that means butterfly. It spots a circular shape that represents the body of a butterfly while the handle is shaped like the wings of a butterfly.


The cylindrical shape of the Papillon is the bag’s most recognizable feature. It has a tube-like shape and can be held up with the two straps that come as part of the design. you cannot adjust the straps but they are long enough to serve for when you want to wear the bag on the shoulder. When it comes to the interior, the Papillon offers one main compartment alone. You won’t find any extra pockets within or outside the bag. Originally, the Papillon bag came with a small pouch which is the same shape, design, and material as the Papillon bag. The only difference between the pouch and the bag is the size. One can use the pouch as a clutch or simply attach it around the straps of the bigger bag.

If you are one of those people who do not care very much for the Louis Vuitton Monogram Print, or you would just like to spot a different look then the Papillon is the bag you should look at. You can get this piece in several unique exciting colors, designs, and materials. You can get the patent or Epi leather, Vernis, Damier, or Monogram Canvas – the choices are just so exciting! Besides the different materials, you can get this bag in different colors. You’d notice how these different materials are instrumental to making different colors for this bag, you have a color in your head already? You’d probably find it on a papillon! The brand also produced some limited edition versions of the Papillon. The best example of this is the Papillon Monogram Blossom which was designed in collaboration with the Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami.


Besides the variations of this design, you’d also find several different sizes of this bag. There is no difference in design even with the size differences, no matter the size, the design always stays the same. Currently, you’d find four variant models in existence. Three of these pieces have names that correspond to the bag’s length and these include the Papillon 19, Papillon 26, and Papillon 30. The Papillon mini is the smallest and the only one with a name not inspired by a number. It appears to closely resemble a clutch than a handbag. The most ubiquitous of the Papillon is the Papillon 30 which most customers love because of its large size and the amount of stuff it can take.

Size Specifications

Papillon Mini Papillon 19 Papillon 26 Papillon 30
15.5 x 6 x 6  cm 19 x 10 x 10 cm 26 x 13 x 13 cm 30 x 15 x 15 cm


A New Piece” The Papillon Messenger

Louis Vuitton discontinued Papillon production in 2009, this move was made despite the bag’s popularity which had lasted for over 50 years. In 2019, ten years after the original Papillon was discontinued, Louis Vuitton unveiled a remodeled version of the papillon for their spring/Summer 2019 collection. This new release is tagged The Papillon Messenger. There aren’t many changes to be noted in the new piece when you compare it side by side with the old Papillon. The major change is found in the straps. Originally the bag spotted two “butterfly-like” straps but the Papillon messenger spots one adjustable crossbody strap. You will also find the leather details in black instead of the light Vachetta leather you find in older pieces. There is also a decorative leather chain that falls across the bag on the Papillon Messenger. A lot of Louis Vuitton fans hate that the new Papillon Messenger was released only as a one-time item for the collection.