Daniel Lalonde, president and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton North America, appears to be no stranger to snail mail. In fact, Lalonde sent talk show host Oprah Winfrey a handwritten note inviting her to a VIP dinner hosted by Vuitton in the Windy City last week. Alas, Winfrey was in Africa, Lalonde was told.

This story first appeared in the July 17, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But the party at Art Smith‘s (a former personal chef to Winfrey) fashionable Gold Coast restaurant Table Fifty-Two went on without her. Celebrating the luxury brand’s new 2,000-square-foot leased department at Nordstrom’s Michigan Avenue store, Vuitton did its best to highlight the history surrounding the two storied companies, styling the restaurant’s upper level with an antique Vuitton trunk dating back to the early 1900s alongside a single 1900s Balmoral-style boot and Fifties lace stiletto from Nordstrom.

Silver-framed black-and-white snapshots of both company’s founders and early employees even dotted the L-shaped dining table.

The decor, however, did little to distract from the Southern specialties served up by Smith, whose macaroni and cheese generated such fervor some lovely lean ladies seated near Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris, Chicago Bulls guard Ben Gordon (who autographed more than one menu card) and Pete Nordstrom, president of merchandising for Nordstrom, couldn’t help but scrape the bowl clean before dessert.

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