Louis Vuitton today unveiled at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., a significantly expanded store reimagined by architect Peter Marino that has the distinction of being the retailer’s largest unit in the Americas, spreading 14,000 square feet across a single level.
All of Louis Vuitton’s metiers will be under one roof — including ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, accessories, textiles, watches and fine jewelry, fragrance, publishing and home. An assortment of products exclusive to South Coast Plaza was created for the launch, including a metallic leopard print Petite Malle and Capucines mini; crocodile version of the Christopher backpack; women’s star trail monogram ankle boot with patches; men’s Trocadero Richelieu sneaker in a variety of Epi leathers; women’s skater dress, and diamond blossom XL fine jewelry medallion, which is prelaunching at the store in advance of its worldwide introduction in October.
The French luxury brand considers the unit to be a travel destination, and has programmed the store as such with various attractions. Louis Vuitton took over the floor above the unit for the first workshop and resident artisan studio in the U.S., where clients will be able to watch one of its artisans handcraft and restore pieces at the atelier.
With the installation of a full-time hand-painter on the main floor, consumers may satisfy their urge for immediate gratification. The painter will personalize hard-sided travel pieces with custom designs.
Marino was charged with balancing Louis Vuitton’s French heritage with ultra-modern designs such as the twisting high-tech carbon fiber shelving throughout the store, which represents the horizontal speed of travel, while three new skylights flood the store with natural daylight — a nod to the fact that travel increasingly moves at the speed of light. Yet there’s plenty to ground the store in the present and link it to the past.
“California sunshine now passes through the store, altered at different times of day,” Marino said. “We designed an entirely new façade, made of laminated glass and shimmering copper. The design was influenced also by the culture of Southern California.” Marino commissioned from Peter Dayton a striped board that’s more than 27 feet long, such as the striped surf boards seen in the artist’s work.
Asked whether the one-level store presented any challenges, and how the boundaries between men’s and women’s and other categories were delineated, Marino said, “Look up! The ceiling and lighting concepts are quite different in men’s and women’s. The men’s ceiling of cerused oak is linear in its design with the lighting embedded within. The shelving appears as a futuristic ribbon, made of high-tech carbon fiber. The women’s salon continues this streamlined design, but is softened. The salon uses gallery-inspired track lighting above and daylight from the ceiling that we’ve cut into.
“Speed, movement, light,” Marino said, referring to his guiding principles for art work in the store. “The art was selected for its vibrant colors, Southern California context, and, yes, the linear work of Anselm Reyle and Peter Dayton reflect the speed of travel. For the house of Louis Vuitton, this is clearly a central element. Reyle’s ‘Untitled, 2004’ hangs juxtaposed to women’s ready-to-wear and leather goods, positioned under a newly designed skylight, illuminated from above.
“It is important to give clients an elevated shopping experience and have them leave feeling happy and uplifted,” said Marino, who seeded the store with art works by A-listers such as Damien Hirst, Anslem Reyle and Aaron Curry. “This doesn’t mean there is a formula that is repeated each time, but we look to the immediate context which allows us to create a unique space, balanced by infusing the store with the brand DNA.”
Richard Misrach’s “Untitled #354-03,” in the women’s VIP area, beckons from a considerable distance, seen from across the women’s salon. From that vantage point, the photograph looks like it could be the bright turquoise ocean of someone’s vacation fantasy. The photographer’s work investigates human interaction with the natural landscape. Consumers’ interaction with South Coast Plaza could be a deep dive into another human behavior.
Furniture from Louis Vuitton’s Objet Nomades collection, for the first time, is sprinkled throughout the store: A pair of egg-shaped Cocoon chairs by Fernando and Humberto Campana hang in the women’s leather goods area along with two orange and navy leather Raw Edges Concertina chairs and a table. Paulo Giordano’s Ethno Eames bronze chair sits next to a scarf display. A Carlo Mollino Reale table and Borge Morgensen table, made in the Forties and Fifties, respectively, hold small leather goods and notebooks and stand in front of a long display of red, black and pink handbags.
Fahrad Moshiri’s “Girl with Orange Lips” depicts a woman hand-embroidered in beads on canvas with her hair turned up in a retro ’do and wearing a headband and dress with orange dots that match her lips. She shimmers down on a pair of Pierre Paulin Pumpkin chairs that happen to be the exact shade of the work’s background. Segue to women’s ready-to-wear, with two mustard-colored chairs that look as if they’d seat a person-and-a-half juxtaposed with a dainty ruffled pink dress, a pale pink skirt with silver swirls, and a white dress and white high-heeled lace-up sandals.
Marino said Louis Vuitton’s philosophy regarding art extends to furniture. “We always work to select artwork that represents different countries and continents,” he said. “Louis Vuitton is a very forward-thinking company when it comes to its engagement with the art world. It thinks globally. Since Louis Vuitton opened its foundation in Paris [the impression the brand aims to leave with consumers] is that it supports the arts to the fullest. That’s significant. Display is also crucial. It’s the same philosophy as to why art must be of the highest quality — visual stimulation and enjoyment count for a lot.”