Louis Vuitton is no stranger to jolly old England. In fact, when the French luxury goods house first set up shop in London, a still nubile Queen Victoria was able to peruse the monogrammed trunks and tiara cases. With such an illustrious history, we could expect nothing less than a grand debut for LV’s palatial new flagship in the heart of London’s retail mecca, New Bond Street.
Sprawled over three levels, the boutique honors Old World opulence, yet streamlined by the vision of architect Peter Marino. With his signature historical mash-up, the store’s regalia is polished off with modernist details such as a slick LED display, artist collaborations (Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince) and endless glass halls. But of course the main attraction is the sumptuous Vuitton offerings, from suitcases to jewelry, as well as a full array of fall’s wasp waists and ample bosoms. And in an ode to the Oxford scholar, the store also houses a library that showcases the best in contemporary British art, i.e. Anish Kapoor, Chris Ofili and Gary Hume.
Of course, it wouldn’t be England without a few strict class divisions. To wit, the second floor is dedicated exclusively to VIP services, including a luminous client suite. Such sumptuous settings were clearly begging for a fete, and LV delivered, pre-recession-style, shutting down the street and hosting a Victoriana-themed banquet, featuring a gentleman’s smoking room straight out of a Dickens novel and a forest recreated indoors. The topper: a rare performance by Donna Summer, who brought down the house with Marc Jacobs himself as backup. One queen bowing to another, that’s what we call the royal treatment.