Welcome to Louis Vuitton’s new London luxury emporium; a store breaking from the impenetrable glass box nature traditionally associated with the high-end brands. Gone are the unbecoming large doorways opened by the men in black.
LV invites you to a four-story fairy tale designed by architect Peter Marino. This new shop takes one on an engaging and experiential shopping journey from the moment you step inside.
The Louis Vuitton brand has long had a strong London presence since their first British store in 1885, but by pouring time and energy in to modernizing the store, Louis Vuitton have now not only made it one of London’s premier retail destinations, but also the brand’s most luxurious flagship store throughout the world.
The glass front of the Bond Street store is lined from floor to ceiling with a monogrammed golden chainmail that filters a sunny light on to the shop-floor. Inspired by Japanese window settings, Marino has managed to subtly turn Louis Vuitton store windows into a dream like gold filigree curtain.
Facing guests as they enter is a custom-made travel caviar set, in crocodile. LV manages to still accommodate its ever-loyal clientele, but tantalise and entertain the fast growing younger, premium consumers. It has become clear that the brand is ever more targeting the leftfield fashionistas advancing out of the covers of style bibles such as LOVE and POP.
Louis Vuitton once again enlisted the New York-based architect Peter Marino for the store’s overhaul. Marino, who previously has worked with the Champs-Elysées LV Maison, aimed to give customers a feeling of entering a new world when crossing a bridge that gives spectacular views over one of the most brilliant design features of the store – a glass staircase with 23 square meters of glass tread surface which includes LEDs to show frequently-changing film and artistic animations.
LV has emerged as an interactive, engaging brand. The store literally threads its guests through the elegant quirkiness of the series of marvelous installations on display as if it were an open jewelery box. Yes it is premium, but it’s a new generation of premium.
The “bag bar”, where you can sit on a leather bar stool and watch a technically innovative showcase for iconic bag styles perched in chrome-framed boxes moving display of handbags behind the counter, inspired by the shooting-duck gallery of a funfair.
Upstairs, in the womenswear salon, long-time Marc Jacobs’ collaborator Katie Grand has put together an installation featuring looks from the 12 years of his creative reign at Vuitton. It is no coincidence that the high priestess of British fashion plays such an influential role in the inauguration of the store. Known as one of the most powerful stylist in the world, Grand launched Dazed & Confused in 1992, with fellow students Rankin Waddell and Jefferson Hack and is now editor of LOVE. Her background with the style zeitgeist not only embeds London style in the heart of the store but makes a nod to a younger premium consumer. LV on Bond Street makes luxury cool.
Michael Landy, best known for the performance piece installation ‘Break Down’, in which he destroyed all of his possession at an old department store in London, was commissioned to produce one of the most significant pieces in the store. Landy’s curiously named ‘Credit Card Destroying Machine’, based in a wood chopper and adorned with taxidermy and salvaged items, even draws a picture with a felt-tipped pen.
The involvement of such influential young artists signals a thoughtful and provocative move towards a more youthful audience.
Special features of the 1,500 sq metre store include a double-height trunk wall showcasing vintage luggage segueing into the travel collection, as well as such items as a croquet set.
Maison Librairie is a unique cultural concept within a retail store. This specialist area on the first floor, with its sky lit, vaulted ceiling, is a peaceful haven conducive to browsing the superbly crafted and extremely limited edition books within, many of which are collectible works by well known British artists. Overlooking guests at the Librairie is a selection of fabulous artwork from the Damien Hirst “Medical Cabinet” to works by LV collaborators Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince.
If one were to imagine the ultimate living quarters – Louis Vuittons store on Bond Street would not be that far off. Bridging the gap between retail, museum, library and then there is of course the secret wardrobe. As exclusive as C.S. Lewis’ fairy tale wardrobe, “The Apartment” comprises of an open plan space which can be sectioned off to create individual suites, all equipped with striking fireplaces, as well as antique and vintage furniture, which can only be accessed upon invitation, via a private lift. Designed for total privacy, these suites carry carefully chosen artworks by high-end artists such as Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hans Hartung and Bertrand Lavier.
In our view Louis Vuitton’s next step would have been developing a top floor after-shopping relaxation with a poolside restaurant by Bistrotheque’s David Waddington or Viajante’s Nuno Mendes and finished off with a spa by the Cowshed family.
Watch this space!