PARIS — Louis Vuitton’s expanded home on the Avenue Montaigne feels just like that: A plush Parisian apartment with some of the amenities of a five-star hotel.
This story first appeared in the December 16, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 16,000-square-foot unit, which opened to the public over the weekend, puts a strong accent on the customer experience, with iPad-wielding sales associates trailing shoppers throughout their visit, which might include a stop at the concierge desk to book a restaurant, and another to hot stamp leather goods with initials.
Visitors navigate a series of salons, many appointed with seating arrangements and area rugs, with consultation desks replacing the usual counter configurations.
Artworks by Bernard Frize, Farhad Moshiri, Remy Markowitsch and others punctuate the rooms, done in a range of buttery neutrals and rich textures by American architect Peter Marino — taupe eel-leather walls here, curtains with couture embroideries there. A bronze bonsai tree by British artist Marc Quinn stands in the entrance foyer along with dressed mannequins perched on gilded platforms.
Elite customers are whisked up an escalator to third-floor salons that are staffed with butlers and equipped with a kitchen capable of hosting private dinners. Trunks stuffed with precious leathers stand at the ready for orders of bespoke handbags.
Vuitton opened temporary spaces nearby while it enlarged and completely renovated its original Montaigne location, tucked into the headquarters of parent LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The unit absorbed the neighboring Fendi boutique, now relocated further up the broad, tree-lined avenue, and sprawls across several courtyards.
Men’s products are showcased on an upper floor, reached by a coiling marble staircase and exuding a cigar-club ambiance with its darker palette. Personalized services include made-to-order shoes — and belts to match. Ready-to-wear selections include tailored clothing with a youthful élan and designed for the traveling executive.
The boutique offers a complete range of fashions, leather goods and accessories for women and men, including watches and fine jewelry, plus a range of writing instruments. Among products exclusive to the location is a wardrobe trunk in Epi leather brushed to resemble denim. It rings in at 48,000 euros, or $59,795 at current exchange rates.
LVMH brass including Bernard Arnault and Vuitton chief executive officer Michael Burke hosted a cocktail party Monday night to christen the space, followed by a private concert by Blondie. The event drew the likes of Antoine Arnault, Natalia Vodianova and Giancarlo Giammetti. Vuitton has been present since 1985 on Avenue Montaigne, one of the French capital’s key luxury strips. In the last two years, the street has welcomed new flagships by Chanel, Saint Laurent, Céline and Giorgio Armani.
Meanwhile in London, Vuitton on Monday opened its first European airport store at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, a 3,240-square-foot unit that features a film installation by Ange Leccia, the French painter, photographer and filmmaker.
The airport has been raising the bar on luxury this month with a string of new openings, including Cartier.
The Vuitton unit stocks the brand’s new cruise collection as well as leather goods, accessories, women’s ready-to-wear and shoes. Materials include anodized aluminum; bronze and gold wallpaper; beige leathers; polished plaster in light gold, and antique brass metalwork.
Leccia’s installation is a short film called “Giraglia,” which will be presented on a digital screen set within the 20-foot-long facade. The film follows the swaying patterns of the Mediterranean Sea and is meant to evoke nature and voyages across water.
“For this piece, Nicolas Ghesquière [Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections] asked me to think about a specific project concerning the sea,” Leccia said. “Giraglia is a small island very close to my Corsican home.”
Last week, Cartier cut the ribbon on a new unit at Terminal 5, its first standalone boutique in a London airport. The 1,345-square-foot store stocks collections including Love and Trinity, as well as watches and accessories.
Diane von Furstenberg, meanwhile, has launched its first independent pop-up Wrap Shop at Harrods boutique inside the terminal. “A wrap shop in Heathrow — very DVF! — effortless, sexy, on the go,” said von Furstenberg.
The pop-up is to remain open through Jan. 20 and stock such designs as the New Jeanne Two and the Celeste Romper, as well as key styles from the resort collection, the new Heritage collection and accessories.