Friday, 28 May 2010

Louis Vuitton Maison

Today sees the opening to the public of Louis Vuitton’s refurbished, expanded and upgraded flagship London store, which has been transformed into one of only a few Louis Vuitton ‘Maisons’ around the world. At roughly twice the size of the brand’s previous store on the corner of New Bond Street, the new space houses all the French luxury brand’s luggage, accessories and ready-to-wear, plus an impressive collection of contemporary artworks and a bookshop featuring limited editions, art and photography books.

The launch kicked off on Wednesday with a party attended by a raft of celebs from across the generations, with Alexa Chung, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kirsten Dunst all kitted out in looks straight from the Louis Vuitton catwalks, plus Angelica Huston and even Donna Summer performing her disco classics at the afterparty.

Of the three floors that comprise the space, the basement is dedicated to menswear. As you descend the staircase you pass artist Michael Landy’s ‘Credit Card Destroying Machine’ sculpture. Built from an assortment of cogs, wheels, weights, pulleys and broken toys, the sculpture features an attachment that will literally shred your credit card, should you be in any doubt that you’ll shred it metaphorically when you discover the delights beyond.

As you enter the men’s space, begin by perching on a leather stool at the accessories bar where you can order-up all manner of small leather goods, wallets, pens, sunglasses and other accessories. The racks beyond carry Marc Jacobs and Paul Helbers’ men’s catwalk collections for Louis Vuitton, plus classic tailoring, shirts and ties. Gilbert and George’s ‘Paws’ artwork dominates the end wall of the main room, which branches off in to the men’s shoe lounge featuring dress shoes, trainers and beach-ready flip-flops.

The whole space exudes luxury and comfort with warm-toned glossy wood-paneled walls, dark wood and cream carpeted floors and leather sofas. Even the fitting rooms cocoon you with their beige suede padded walls and side-view mirrors.

If you survive the men’s floor with your credit card intact, the ground floor offers plenty more temptations. The luggage room features every possible suitcase, briefcase, keepall and tote bag. There’s even a croquet set in a monogrammed trunk if you’re looking for something a little different.

Take some time to wander around the rest of the store to discover artworks such as the cartoon-inspired sculpture ‘Kiki’ by Takashi Murakami (whose smiley cartoon flower faces are available on beach towels in store), Damien Hirst’s ‘Trunk’ – a medical cabinet complete with surgical tools and stethoscope housed within a Louis Vuitton trunk. Plus on the top floor Katie Grand - stylist and editor-in-chief of Love magazine - has curated an exhibition of outfits from the best of Marc Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton womenswear collections. Moving handbag displays, watches lit-up like museum pieces and a Louis Vuitton ‘planet’ orbiting the jewellery counter all add to the spectacle.

Finally, for those of you who have been lucky enough to get your hands on an iPad today, you might be interested to know that Louis Vuitton are releasing a monogrammed leather cover especially for Apple’s latest gadget. The bad news? It won’t be in-store until next year.

Louis Vuitton, 160 New Bond Street, London,

Words By Steve Morriss

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