Peter Marino on Louis Vuitton flagship opening
And a dramatic reworking of the Vuitton’s classic boutiques, the four-floor stores takes a radical new fresh brush to the house’s traditional wood, metal and logo shops.
Instead, Marino covered most of the interior walls with the iconic Pierre de Paris, the light beige stone with which many of the finest buildings in the City of Light are composed. “We took the outside and brought it inside,” commented Marino, as admirers brushed the honey colored walls with their hands.
The actual store is a combination of two elegant Parisian mansions, one that looks on to Place Vendome, the other that runs along the Faubourg St Honoré, the famed shopping Mecca. Inside, the product selection reflects the exteriors. On the side of Place Vendome, the world’s leading retail center for expensive jewelry, the choice is given over to Vuitton’s current boom division, high-end jewelry and gentlemanly watches. As one walks the 50-meter long store south to the Faubourg, one discovers the first handbags and accessories, and then a few select pieces of women’s ready-to-wear by the house’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière.
Pointing to the dramatic stairway, Marino noted the steels cords that descended into the stone steps: “They actually hold the whole thing up,” winked the architect, dressed in his signature all black leather naughty motor bike cop look replete with peak cap. Passing a massive statute of the Sun King, in gold of course, making a very regal gesture, one takes a high-speed elevator to the top floor. There, a fine range of Vuitton’s core division – its travel bags from malles, to weekenders to rollies, are placed alongside one of many collaborations the brand is offering in this flagship. One is tempted to recline on a splendid Bomboca sofa, made in partnership with the Campana Brothers and part of LV’s Objects Nomades project. On the same floor, a discreet customization service with a luxe room for VIP guests.
One floor below on the entre-sol the men’s department, offering the latest ideas of men’s designer Kim Jones – like excellent, burnished Gaspard boots with LV stamped red. For those with truly deep pockets, there’s a stunning deep blue alligator blouson, which will set one back 70,000 euros.
Though, perhaps the piece de resistance is the Piano Nobile, which feel like a super-luxurious billionaire’s pad on Park Avenue, except its view is of Napoleon’s giant bronze victory column.
“We wanted people to linger and to enjoy themselves. And I think they will,” said Marino, the single most important designer of boutiques for LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group. “And, do check out the toilets,” he notes, leading to a tour of a very haute toilette in alabaster, where even the loo paper comes in a Vuitton print.
Above all, this emporium looks like being very much a new Paris destination where clients and tourists will want to record their presence on social media, and bien sûr, shop.
Marino also was the curator of the art collection of some 30 works that are featured prominently throughout the store. Marino nods towards a quartet of chalky colored stacks of rumpled boulders, a striking work by Annie Morris; it stands besides substantial navy blue Vuitton trunk, covered in butterflies, which turns out to be a Medical cabinet by Damien Hirst.
Old friends of the house like Stephen Sprouse are featured with an image of four speakers; and one cannot help but admire a white, wrought iron like chandelier by Philippe Anthonioz. Though pride of place might go to a black and white oil in the shape of a medallion of founder Louis Vuitton, based on a photo of him as a promising young hopeful who left his native mountainous region of the Jura to open a brand in Paris in 1854. Which is to the largest in luxury on the planet.
“It’s amazing what you can do with a budget of $100,000!” Marino said, roaring with laughter. Next stop, the opening party Monday night, when the store covered in hundred of giant bronze pipes will truly glitter.
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