For many well-heeled travelers, One&Only is shorthand for complete and total escape. The company’s oceanfront resorts from Mexico to the Maldives are the kind of pampering getaways most of us spent lockdown fantasizing about. While jetting off to a One&Only property is still a bit complicated, the ever-thoughtful hosts are offering another one-of-a-kind delight that doesn’t require a passport: a collection of vintage Louis Vuitton bags custom-embroidered to celebrate each of One&Only’s destinations.
The company, no stranger to the fashion set, having partnered with the likes of Christian Louboutin and Missoni in the past, tapped Jonathan Riss of Jay Ahr to bring the project to life. Riss’s Paris-based brand specializes in haute embroidery—think Birkins awash in bandana prints—and is a hot commodity among collectors with a taste for eclectic luxuries. As Philippe Zuber, COO of One&Only’s parent company, says: “Fashion is an intrinsic part of our guests’ lives. Collaborating with Jonathan Riss for Jay Ahr allows us to create something truly bespoke for our guests that inspires dreams of travel.”
These bags are far from your standard hotel souvenir. The collection is comprised entirely of vintage Louis Vuitton Keepalls (the brand’s most timeless, genderless duffle bag) that have been embellished with intricately embroidered designs evocative of One&Only’s ten destinations. There are two different designs for each locale: one riffing on the national flag and another, more abstract representation of the nation’s culture. Each is one-of-a-kind, and sure to be snapped up fast by jet-setters and fashion collectors alike. But no worries if you can’t snag one in-person: they can be purchased by emailing email@example.com.
Can’t decide if you’re more Montenegro or Rwanda? We asked Riss to share his five favorites, below.
‘Your Camel for My Bag’ — One&Only The Palm, Dubai
“I love the Keffiyeh. I love the design itself, the pattern, but also I love that it is seen everywhere and although the design is the same, the way people wear it can be so different. It can be your protection, a symbol of your tribe or as I was growing up in Europe, a personal style. I am also fascinated by the elegance of Arabic script and how overlaying it over the Keffiyeh design brings a fluidity to it all.”
‘Million Voices’ — One&Only Nyungwe House, Rwanda
“Having spent several years working and traveling in Africa, I have come to love the vibrancy, diversity and individuality of the tribal patterns. The colors are always amazing and the repetitive geometric patterns are very powerful. A key part of our pieces is to allow the underlying canvas to be visible. To do this, I like using different shapes to interrupt the flow of the design. The Rwandan sun is a very striking symbol that cuts across the pattern in a really interesting way. And of course, adding the lyrics to ‘Million Voices’ adds a layer of intensity and emotion to this piece that goes far beyond the words.”
‘Oye! Dia De Muertos’ — One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico
“I find skulls very compelling. Obviously, they are part of all of us and symbolize something that most of us do not really want to think about, but I have always felt skulls symbolize life and the immortality of the soul. This is why I love the way Mexico celebrates The Day of the Dead. The creativity, details and color that go into the celebrations are insane. I love the randomness of this bag in the way we arranged all the skulls giving an almost psychedelic effect.”
‘Evanguvi’ — One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives
“Whenever I look at this bag, I feel a sense of calm, and I love that I am able to feel this from embroidery. The ocean is an incredible source of inspiration but it can be so difficult to capture. We used a complex layering technique to provide a sense of fluidity and depth to this design as well as a very carefully selected blend of colors to mimic the ever-changing color of the sea.”
‘Magic Carpet’ — One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai
“This one of my favorite designs that I have done, both from an aesthetic and technical perspective. The Persian rug symbolizes so many aspects of culture and society, especially the wanderlust of the nomadic lifestyle. The cross-stitch technique we use for this piece gives a robust and worn feel to the bag that blends beautifully with the distressed motif. When I look at this bag, I just want to get out onto the open road and discover new adventures.”