PARIS — Sukhbaatar Square in Ulan Bator, the capital city of Mongolia, is so central that many of its million-plus inhabitants are bound to traverse it on a regular basis.
That means its newest resident, a 5,300-square-foot Louis Vuitton boutique with a two-story high, 112-foot wide wraparound facade, is a conspicuous beacon of luxury in a remote country becoming wealthier by the minute, thanks to enormous gold, copper and uranium reserves.
Vuitton, a luxury pioneer that opened its first store in Greater China in 1992, is excited to be among the first to arrive in the region. “Why be first? You have 100 percent share of voice,” enthused Yves Carcelle, Vuitton’s chairman and chief executive officer, who is slated to host an opening celebration Friday. “It helps impose your brand as the standard of luxury. I honestly think it’s the right move.”
Carcelle said Vuitton’s 440th store is projected to be profitable within its first year of operation.
Thanks to the Internet and Russian fashion magazines, Mongolians are already familiar with the Vuitton brand and have been purchasing its products from Vuitton stores in three popular destinations: Moscow, Beijing and Seoul, Carcelle said. Another promising sign is the presence of many Vuitton bags “on the arms of elegant women” in Ulan Bator’s trendy nightclubs and restaurants, he added.
Vuitton is also clearly banking on the vigorous economic development expected in tandem with major mining ventures. Already, the skyline is dotted with construction cranes. “It’s a country that knows it has to modernize but wants to do it in a controlled way,” Carcelle said.
The two-level boutique in the new skyscraper Central Tower — which already houses an Ermenegildo Zegna shop that opened earlier this month — features a 30-foot long “bag bar” flanked by men’s and women’s departments, each devoted to extensive selections of leather goods, footwear and accessories.
Upstairs is a circular VIP room, the shape reminiscent of a yurt. A Vuitton saddle was made especially for the store in recognition of Mongolia’s nomadic roots and strong horse riding culture.
Carcelle noted VIP rooms, and the elite service that comes in tandem, are particularly prized in Asia.
To mark the opening, Vuitton plans to donate more than 6,000 educational books to support some 220 primary schools across Mongolia, still a poor country.
Meanwhile, Vuitton continues its global retail expansion, with major stores slated to bow in December at CityCenter in Las Vegas and One Central in Macau. “Casinos are always a good vicinity for luxury,” Carcelle said. Next year, Vuitton will enter two new countries, Lebanon and the Dominican Republic, he added.
@moncler unveiled its latest project, #MonclerGenius, yesterday at Milan Fashion Week. The Italian outwear maker gave show-goers a preview of the monthly collections – which were created by eight designers and creative talents including Pierpaolo Piccioli, Simone Rocha, Craig Green and more – that will start rolling out in the summer.
In honor of Rihanna’s 30th birthday, we took a look back at an interview with the Barbados-native when she was just 18 years old. Here, she talked about her second album, “A Girl Like Me” in 2006. “I want to be me. I want people to fall in love with who Rihanna is, and that’s why I want the album to be about me so people can really find out who this girl Rihanna is, because they only know the ‘Pon de Replay’ girl.” Fast forward 12 years, and she’s released six more albums and has become a powerhouse in both the fashion and music industries. Happy birthday, @badgalriri 🎈(📷: Pavel Antonov) #wwdarchive