LONDON — Louis Vuitton wants to capture all of the few rays of sunlight that London has to offer.
The brand’s reopened Sloane Street store, on the corner of Harriet Street, has a sparkling glass facade that lets the natural light spill onto all three levels. It allows passersby to see the three floors from the street, while customers inside can peek over the balcony on each floor and view the next level. The window displays of antique trunks, Marc Jacobs-designed clothing and accessories look as if they are floating inside the glass.
“We wanted something shocking, but this is a [landmark] listed building and we couldn’t change the glass facade,’’ said Yves Carcelle, Vuitton’s chief executive, who was here to cut the ribbon Tuesday. “So we were forced to use our imagination.”
The company later came up with the idea of creating three “floating” floors that would all benefit from the natural light. Designed by Peter Marino and the in-house Louis Vuitton team, the 5,400-square-foot store also features the polished limestone and aniegre wood of other Vuitton units. The Sloane Street shop is the second Louis Vuitton unit in London, in addition to 17-18 New Bond Street.
Sloane Street has reopened as a global store, which means it carries the full range of Vuitton ready-to-wear and accessories. It is also one of the few stores worldwide to have a separate area for the brand’s new jewelry line, which has its own dedicated area on the lower ground floor.
“We really needed an appropriate space to expose the full line of jewelry,’’ Carcelle said. “The last thing we wanted was to display a $248,000, or 200,000 euros, necklace next to a wallet. We really consider this store a destination — and for the jewelry in particular.”
The new 110-piece gem collection — awash in gold, diamonds and references to Vuitton’s travel roots and famous monogram — will initially go on sale in six Vuitton stores for fall: New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong. About 50 additional shops carry accessibly priced selections. A larger rollout is slated for 2005.
The store replaces Vuitton’s original Sloane Street unit, which has closed. It is a stiletto’s throw from the other branded units belonging to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, including Dior, Pucci, Fendi and Berluti.
The ground floor features leather goods, accessories and textiles, while the first floor carries men’s ready-to-wear, leather goods, accessories and luggage. The lower ground floor is stocked with women’s ready-to-wear, shoes, watches and jewelry.
Louis Vuitton first landed on Sloane Street in 1988 — and the customer base has evolved.
“We’re getting a whole new category of customer, which I like to call the ‘international locals,’ people who have homes in the neighborhood, but who don’t necessarily spend the entire year in London because they have multiple residences,’’ Carcelle said. “It’s a very cosmopolitan clientele — and they plan their shopping ahead of time.”
Although Carcelle declined to give any sales projections, real estate sources said the store will have to generate sales of at least $1,870, or 1,000 pounds, per square foot, or $9.35 million, or 5 million pounds, per year.
The Sloane Street unit is Vuitton’s ninth point of sale in the U.K. The brand will open a Birmingham shop in September and will be expand its Dublin store early next year. There are also stores in Manchester and Edinburgh.