Louis Vuitton is readying itself for the most important date in its 125-year association with London - the opening, next week, of its New Bond Street "maison", in the heart of the West End. The Louis Vuitton UK flagship will rival the LV store on the Champs Elysées in Paris.
M. Bernard Arnault, the French tycoon who has built LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton into the world’s largest luxury goods empire, and who ranks seventh on the Forbes billionaires list, together with Yves Carcelle, the chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, head a roll-call of grands fromages and celebrities arriving for the red-carpet event.
And Marc Jacobs himself, the American designer who is creative director of Louis Vuitton, and whose catwalk shows are one of the hottest tickets on the Paris prêt-à-porter calender, is expected in London for the night.
The new London LV maison has been designed by the New York-based architect, Peter Marino, who also worked on the brand’s Champs Elysées maison. It features eye-dazzling highlights such as a two-storey wall of trunks - to showcase the LV tradition of working in leather - and a glass and LED staircase.
The 15,000 sq ft store is designed to reflect the 21st century mood of London and bring together innovation, heritage and fashion - “all values that are important to Louis Vuitton,” M. Carcelle said.
Marino’s masterplan was to conceive the store as the home of a collector who loves only the best and most rare. The ground floor is devoted to Louis Vuitton accessories and will include original artworks from well-known names such as Richard Prince, and Takashi Murakami, both of whom have collaborated with Jacobs in the past, as well as separate circular zones for costume jewellery and sunglasses.
Glass stairs to the lower ground floor will lead to the men’s universe. The first floor is devoted to womenswear and shoes, and will also house a "Librairie" of the best of British contemporary art books, and bespoke commissions by the likes of Anish Kapoor, Chris Ofili and Gary Hume.
The store’s second floor will be the private client suite, accessible only by invitation.
To mark the opening, the stylist and magazine editor, Katie Grand, is curating a “mini-retrospective” of Marc Jacobs’s designs for Louis Vuitton, the first-ever assemblage of the cream of his collections since he was appointed creative director of the brand 12 years ago.
More than 300 guests are expected for the gala opening on May 25. The Louis Vuitton maison, at 17-20 New Bond Street, London, W1, will officially open to the public on Friday May 28 2010.