Louis Vuitton will open the doors to its New Bond Street Maison in London on May 28th 2010. This is the most important date in Louis Vuitton’s 125-year association with the city of London, since it opened its first store in 1885. This Maison, which reflects Louis Vuitton’s rare art-de-vivre and savoir-faire, is conceived as the home of a collector who loves only the best and the rarest.
New Bond Street has been the heart of Louis Vuitton’s presence in London since it first opened its doors there in 1900. Since the eighteenth century, when auction houses first established themselves on the street, closely followed by jewellery and fashion emporia, New Bond Street has had a reputation for supplying the best of luxury goods and is today one of the world’s premier locations for international luxury brands.
For Yves Carcelle, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, “London is one of the most important fashion and cultural cities in the world which brings together heritage and innovation. Opening a Maison in London is an expression of our belief and optimism in the future of this city”. To continue the journey with London, Louis Vuitton has launched at this occasion the “Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project”: an unprecedented partnership with five of London’s leading cultural institutions, with the aim of contributing to the development of the cultural and artistic dimension of young people’s lives in London.
Tour of the Maison
Situated at the junction of New Bond Street and Clifford Street, this Maison will be, in the words of architect Peter Marino, “the most luxurious Louis Vuitton store to date”. The New Bond Street Maison, which reflects Louis Vuitton’s art-de-vivre and savoir-faire, is conceived as the home of a collector, who loves only the best and the rarest. It gives visitors opportunities to discover new and exciting experiences.
Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison Entrance
The double building, extending over half a block, has been unified with a new façade of white Portland stone, with double-height windows giving an open and airy impression and featuring the golden, logo-inspired, mesh cladding that has become a signature of the Louis Vuitton’s Maisons worldwide.
Visitors enter the New Bond Street Maison by a bridge that gives spectacular views over one of the most brilliant design features of the store – a glass staircase with 23 square meters of glass tread surface which includes LEDs to show frequently-changing film and artistic animations.
The ground floor features the full range of accessories, including areas for collections of precious and rare items. There are two areas for “exceptional bags” – precious and embellished styles in exotic skins.
Vintage Trunks Installation
Entering over a bridge, to the immediate right is the impressive trunk wall, with the newest collections running up high on gold titanium plated metal shelves, contrasted with a special installation of historical trunks, weightlessly suspended, like artworks, with wire cables.
Horlogerie & Joaillerie
Architecture Info: Through two Afromosia wood thresholds, clients enter the high-end area of fine jewellery, watches and exceptional bags with its warm and intimate feel. This is created by rich French lacquer wall panelling and partitions clad in dark woven metal, flooring areas in solid wood boards and carpets with an exotic tiger stripe motif, all giving an opulent mood.
Mens and Womens’ watches are to be found each in their own secluded corners where they can be viewed in comfort. The range will include a temporary exhibition of one-off haute horlogerie models: Tambour Tourbillon and Tambour Mystérieuse, where movement appears to float unsupported in the sapphire crystal. Customers can personalise both models by choosing details like the colour and number of precious stones to adorn it, as well as placing their initials on the movement within the watch. Moreover, two new and highly innovative watches of the Tambour Spin Time Collection will make its European debut at the Maison. The Tambour Spin Time GMT and the Tambour Spin Time Jewellery introduce a new and playful way of reading time.
Nearby the watch & jewellery room, visitors may admire, in a private viewing room, Louis Vuitton’s first High Jewellery collection, “L’Ame du Voyage” – unique jewellery pieces designed by Lorenz Bäumer.
To the left, a more relaxed area features smaller items. Louis Vuitton Bag Bar, a technically innovative showcase for iconic bag styles perched in chrome-framed boxes which moves as if its a puzzle.
Another area is devoted to scarves, where four colourways (Turquoise, Beige, Corail & Encre) of the iconic Leopard Stole in very limited numbers – 125 of each – will be exclusive to the store.
Fancy Jewelry Area
In the circular costume jewellery area the mood is light-hearted, with two Louis Vuitton- branded “planets” circulating round a ceiling sparkling with Saturn-like rings and a rotating sculpture by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami enlivening the scene. Louis Vuitton’s extensive sunglasses collection, all made to the House’s exclusive specifications, has its own striking cylindrical area.
LOWER GROUND FLOOR
The glass staircase, with its ever-changing LEDs, leads down to the men’s universe. Men’s bags, scarves and other accessories join areas for the full range of men’s ready-to-wear and shoes, which will include sneakers and car shoes in exotic skins for special order. In the centre is the men’s club area with sofas and displays of high-end ready-to-wear, where customers and their guests can relax watched over by Gilbert & George’s ceiling-height artwork.
PAWS by Gilbert & George
Architecture Info: The men’s universe features much darker finishes throughout, giving a masculine, clubby and intimate mood. Dark stained oak flooring links the various areas and the leather goods zone, shoes area and men’s club are finished in an engineered stripy high-gloss wood veneer while men’s fashion has a sportier French embossed leather. The club area is another example of Peter Marino’s “residential” style with relaxing sofas and low tables while the carefully-chosen 2005 artwork PAWS by London-based artists Gilbert & George, dominates the scene.
Louis Vuitton Ready-to-Wear Exhibition by Katie Grand
On arrival to the first floor an area for temporary exhibitions. The first exhibition is devoted to Louis Vuitton ready-to-wear designs by Marc Jacobs. Curated by stylist and editor Katie Grand, this exhibition brings together and mixes up, in a delightful way, emblematic pieces of Louis Vuitton’s ready-to-wear collections, constantly refreshed by Marc Jacobs since thirteen years. It also reflects Louis Vuitton’s delicate craftsmanship, consistent throughout the collections.
The first floor also features three ready-to-wear areas which has different moods to complement the aspects of Marc Jacobs’ highly sought-after collections: two geared to daywear, decorated in different tones of French embossed leather, and one in light French lacquer as a backdrop for evening wear.
Also in this floor is the the Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison Librairie which is a unique cultural concept within a retail store. This specialist area on the first floor, with its skylit, vaulted ceiling, is a peaceful haven conducive to browsing the superbly crafted and extremely limited edition books within, many of which are collectable works by well known British artists. There are four main components to the Librairie, from bespoke books of original, fine art limited edition prints to Louis Vuitton’s own publications and rare collectable titles.
The second floor is devoted to “The Apartment”. “The Apartment” comprises of an open plan space which can be sectioned off to create individual suites, all equipped with striking fireplaces, as well as antique and vintage furniture, which can only be accessed upon invitation, via a private lift. Designed for total privacy, these suites carry carefully chosen artworks by high-end artists such as Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hans Hartung and Bertrand Lavier.
The seven windows of the New Bond Street Maison, unified by a background of the signature Louis Vuitton metal mesh, will have displays designed to amaze and delight passers-by. For the inauguration of the Maison, the windows reflect the overall theme of “The Collector”, and show what an eccentric British collector might possess if they had been a collector of Louis Vuitton over the years and had perhaps inherited some pieces. Each of the seven windows has a neon word to reflect the display, such as “Obsession”, “Temptation” and “Accumulation”. The windows engage the viewer with Louis Vuitton’s history, craftsmanship and the passion of creation.
“Collection” Window Display
“Accumulation” Window Display
“Considered” Window Display
“Obsession” Window Display
“Temptation” Window Display
What an amazing store! I hope I could visit here someday. But for the Londoners and those who are currently in London, be sure to visit the new Maison. It will be officially opened to the public starting May 28th, 2010.
Images via Stéphane Muratet / Louis Vuitton