Louis Vuitton Maison London Store Opening Press Preview 2010

I don’t even know how to begin this post. I have left the Louis Vuitton store with a knot in my stomach. I am speechless.  This store is one of the finest retail outlets, if not THE finest, in the world. Pictures don’t do the Maison justice.  In order to truly appreciate the quality of this project you have to visit the store yourself. There’s no other solution. But be forewarned. If you visit you will not leave empty handed. The Louis Vuitton Maison seduces you from the moment you walk through the tall heavy glass doors. You are surrounded by some of the most amazing luxury goods on the planet and you can feel it even in the air around you. You’re in a special place where “retail therapy” isn’t just a phrase, it’s a way of life.  I am instantly drawn to the wall of trunks. How can I help myself, I am a collector and have always loved the old trunks that are purchased with such grand histories. Is there anything sexier than a trunk that has travelled on several ocean voyages back in the day of long transatlantic adventures? Oh the stories it could tell!

Of course looking at trunks only leads to looking at handbags. This is where I really get in trouble. They seem to have every single Louis Vuitton bag in this store (even the ostrich and crocodile leather special editions that sell for tens of thousands of pounds).  You can smell the leather – that wonderful smell that lets you know everything has been just taken out of packaged sleepers. Ah, heaven. Speaking of heaven, check out the speedy Ostrich leather bag below…and the gorgeous clutch alongside it!

Every item has it’s own section in this store. You want Sunglasses, head to rotunda filled with Louis Vuitton heads. Looking for a small gift such as a scarf, necklace or key ring? Yup, they have those too and you can sit in a bar-like setting while you are served delectable goodies made of leather, silver and silk. When you’re finished on the ground floor, take a stroll up to the first for some shoe shopping, book reading and frock hopping. As you land on the first floor you are immediately confronted with an exhibit of Speedy Bag Heads wearing the latest and greatest from the Louis Vuitton runways – designed by Katie Grand.

While you swoon over the killer heels and Spring dresses, your entourage or loved one has nice comfy sofas to perch on. As you swan in and out of the dressing room like Cinderella you will feel better knowing that your guests are comfortable and looked after…giving you more time to stare at yourself in the lovely fur vest you just can’t live without (see below).

The stairs are quite trippy! They have LCD screens below them. Who knows what this means for the future. But for now it can be somewhat disconcerting when you are trying to place your feet on the steps. I thought for sure I was going to perform a lovely face plant for all of the Louis Vuitton press office to see. That would be me off the guest list for future events! But it’s worth the risk to visit the men’s section in the basement which is filled with gorgeous shearling coats, lovely t-shirts and fine leather good and accessories made for the special men in your life.

The windows outside the store were already attracting a lot of attention before the store even officially opened. Seeing them close up, I now understand why. There is a giant giraffe, a machine that makes shoes walk across the window and a window where an artist made animals out of Vuitton bags. Pure genius. One could spend an afternoon just staring at these lovely creations.

10 things to know….
1. The architect for the project was Peter Marino.
2. The Building extends over half of a city block, covers 3 floors and 1500 square meters.
3. On the second floor there is a private “Apartment” which is an open plan space that can be sectioned off for private events. The space is lit with extravagant fireplaces and decorated with contemporary art and antique furnishings. This room is invitation only! Marc…have we ever told you how much we love you?
4. The Maison has a library which includes limited edition books from well known British artists. This is located on the first floor.
5. Permanent artworks displayed in the store are from the following artists: Jean Lariviere, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Gilbert and George, Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Betrand Lavier, Jeff Koons and Hans Hartung.
6. Louis Vuitton opened their first store in London, on Oxford Street, in 1885.
7. You have to enter the store over a bridge!
8. The shop has seven windows which will be constantly changing to entertain every passing customer.
9. Watch out for moving walls. They catch you by surprise!
10. The first Maison store opened in Paris in 2005.

Thanks to the LV Press Office for being so fabulous today and for inviting me to take part in the viewing!

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