The newest and most luxurious Louis Vuitton Maison opened on Bond Street in London on May 28th to the public. The 3 story building designed by Peter Marino is punctuated by modern art from such hot contemporary artists as Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, Gilbert & George, Richard Prince and custom pieces by Anish Kapoor, Chris Ofili and Gary Hume and tables by Roland Mellan and John Ashpool.
In addition to the impressive store with a second floor apartment viewable by invitation only (pics shown later in the post), the grand opening was commemorated with a curated display by Katie Grand, stylist and magazine editor for LOVE, who was asked to go through the past 12 years of fashion archives under the creative direction of Marc Jacobs, and select a few seminal pieces to display on mannequins together with items from the new fall/winter collection.
The Katie Grand curated retrospective in-store Mannequin display to commemorate the opening:
David Hughes photographed the styled mannequin exhibition and a beautiful catalogue was printed as well as an editorial in LOVE magazine.
Here are some of his catalog shots from the retrospective exhibit marking the grand opening of the London Louis Vuitton store.
A Tour of the New Maison
Purported to be the most luxurious LV store to date, the new Louis Vuitton Maison is 17,000 square feet and three floors. It was designed by Peter Marino to evoke the home of a well-heeled “collector”. It is piled to the rafters with contemporary art, antique luggage, books, watches, and, of course, the lust-have dresses, bags and shoes Jacobs has made the LV fashion signature. It also features his collaborations with artists such as Stephen Sprouse, Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami.
To create the vast new maison, Peter Marino entirely reworked the original store – also designed by him – and fused it with what was Donna Karan, next door. ‘I had to destroy my own baby,’ he says. The two spaces are united by white Portland stone, double height windows and Louis Vuitton’s signature golden mesh cladding. Says Marino: ‘I could barely touch the historic facade, so I knocked everything inside down instead…’
To enter the store, visitors step across a bridge, which separates the inner building from the facade. Below it is a glass staircase, illuminated by LEDs that will show constantly changing film and artistic animations. ‘I’ve created a kind of “moat”‘, says the American designer. ‘But it’s a virtual one, not the kind that apparently costs vast sums to clean, like your MPs”. Asked if he sees a ‘moat’ as something quintessentially English, Marino replies, ‘Didn’t you all live in castles when you were kids?’
The Men’s Universe
Descend the LED-lit staircase to the lower-ground floor and you’ll find the men’s universe, comprising various areas, such as the leather goods zone, the shoes area and the men’s club. Darker finishes give it an aptly masculine feel and walls are clad in wood veneer.
Glass stairs to the lower ground floor open the way to the men’s universe, at the centre of which is the men’s club area where customers and their guests can relax.
The “Men’s Club”
Dominated by a giant 2005 artwork by Gilbert & George, the space is filled with relaxing sofas and low tables, once again like a private apartment.
Artwork in the “men’s club” by Gilbert and George:
‘Because I began my career creating high end luxury residences – for the likes of Yves St Laurent, the Rothschilds – before I became a retail architect, I’m able to bring to the stores a high end sense of how the customer lives,’ he explains. Throughout the new maison you’ll find unusual furniture from auctions and dealers, including tables by Roland Mellan and John Ashpool.
The ground floor is devoted to Louis Vuitton accessories and will include both original artworks from well-known names including, Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami, and exclusive products specially designed for the store. There are separate, circular zones for costume jewellery and sunglasses, and a private client room next to the high jewellery area.
The costume jewellery area
The costume jewellery zone, to the far left of the store, marks the entrance to a room filled with moving bags and scarves. Two LV-branded planets orbit around ceiling inspired by Saturn’s rings. On a plinth stands Kiki – a sculpture by long-time Vuitton collaborator, Takashi Murakami.
The sunglasses area
Even the sun-like light that shines through the central oculus of the sunglasses area moves up and down. ‘Dichroic glass constantly changes the light that hits your eyes, ergo, creating the need to put sunglasses on,’ says Marino. ‘Pedro likes to get paid, you know…’
Scarves are framed like works of art in a gallery – as part of a moving wall display or arranged flat in drawers like precious art prints.:
At the bag bar, customers can sit on stools and pick their bags like they would a cocktail, from a back-lit, rotating display. ‘When I was parading round all the other shops that are heavy on handbags I felt this lethal lack of energy,’ explains the architect. ‘I couldn’t give the bags any artificial stimulation so I thought, let’s get them moving.’
Fine jewelry and watches department:
The Trunk installation
Cross over the bridge and you come to an installation of vintage trunks suspended in the air. This is backed by a bronze mesh, whose pattern is based on the flowers of the monogram handbag, which wraps the entire store. ‘It involved very difficult workmanship,’ explains Marino. ‘The Nottingham-based company that made it had to make thousands of samples to get it right, because it’s about 30ft high and heavy as hell.
The first one was like chainmail but in the end it came out light and scintillating. It filters the light and moves like a curtain”
The first floor is devoted to womenswear and shoes, in several intimate areas with generous and luxurious changing rooms. Also here is the unique Librairie which will showcase the best of British contemporary Art Books and bespoke commissions by artists including Anish Kapoor, Chris Ofili and Gary Hume.
The Women’s Universe
The first floor is home to the latest women’s wear collections. The three ready-to-wear zones have different moods to draw out different aspects of the collections, decorated in varying tones of French embossed leather and light French lacquer. This floor is also home to the librairie, sculptures by the likes of Damien Hirst and an area for temporary exhibitions.
The high end area
One of the many firsts that this store pioneers for the Louis Vuitton network is the placing of the most expensive pieces bang opposite the entrance. This store isn’t scared of scaring customers away with its price tags. ‘It’s a bit experimental and risk-taking. But this is New Bond Street,’ Marino exclaims. ‘The theory is that the customer here is somewhat immune to the vagaries of the market.’
The fine jewellery, watches and best bags are displayed in an intimate area, with lacquered wall panelling and partitions clad in dark woven copper, linen and wool. ‘This was my way of responding architecturally to the gorgeous materials of the bags.’
Second Floor: the Apartment
The store’s second floor is a separate, luxurious world – the private client suite, which can only be accessed by invitation and is referred to as “The Apartment”. There are fireplaces, rare antiques, lacquered doors and all the carpets are one off mixtures of silk and wool, designed by Marino himself. Says the architect: ‘I call it VIP on steroids. But I also wanted it to feel like a space where you can hang.’
‘The Bible cowboys’ by Richard Prince hangs in the suite of 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.
The plan for a VIP space was hatched only 14 months ago – a response to a growing trend in luxury stores in China. “The feedback from the brands who created them in China was a revelation. They make as much profit from these areas as they do out of all the selling floors,’ Marino explains. So he put the idea to Louis Vuitton. ‘They said, “Okay Peter, go ballistic. We’re going to try this.” Quite frankly speaking, it’s an experiment. I’ve never done this for a brand in the West before.’
Here, custom-made furniture by Marino sits alongside a chair by French sculptor Philippe Hiquily:
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.
In the entrance to the apartment is ‘Napoleonic Stereotype circa ’44’ by Jean-Michel Basquiat:
On the wall of the main room is a work titled ‘NET’ by Gilbert & George:
‘TI985 H12’ by Hans Hartung hangs on a lacquered wall:
Atomium detail N10′ by Bertrand Lavier:
The store window displays: