When you enter Maison Louis Vuitton at Place Vendôme, you will discover the prestigious shop is also a contemporary art museum where design and modern art are displayed with a hint of the heyday of the Palace of Versailles. It is a stunning showcase of savoire-faire by the famous French brand.
On the day of the inauguration of the new Louis Vuitton store on Place Vendôme on October 4 2017, a huge 6m in diameter golden sunburst was revealed punctuating the beautiful facade. A double nod: to the Sun King and the pinnacle of the heady days of Versailles which inspired this space, as well as to contemporary art and the signature of the Vuitton brand.
This location wasn’t chosen at random as you’ll discover. The facades of two 17th century mansions designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Louis XIV's favourite architect, were blended to form one.
Place Vendome has long been a symbol of French elegance and modern luxury. The message in choosing this space was clear: Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme has designs to embody the global influence of the crafts, savoire-faire and French arts – just as the Palace of Versailles did in its time.
To bridge the gap between past and present, Peter Marino, a renowned New York architect famous for his staging of art in the world of luxury, was assigned to deliver the renovation. It’s certainly an exercise in style because there was nothing of the original splendour inside when he began.
To bring to life the atmosphere of a French mansion, Marino created a stone and glass staircase connecting the four levels and constructed a covered courtyard with a double height space and skylight to introduce light.
French stone slabs – chateau style inspiration
Drawing on his experience of the history of decorative arts, Marino mixed tradition with innovation, considering ancient materials and imagining new variations. For instance, the parquet floors of Versailles are represented but in lighter shades with a modern touch, alongside floors composed of chateau-style French stone slabs. Furnishings include carpets, chairs and sofas designed in Marino’s New York studio to compliment the forms and materials featured in 33 works by artists and designers, an integral part of the décor. It is a perfect balance.
Each room reveals an artistic style such as orange cushions by French designer Pierre Paulin or a skeleton table by Italian architect and designer Carlo Mollino. Tributes that pay homage to the glory of contemporary design.
And, as in an art gallery, pieces from the collection of Objects Nomads, limited edition pieces created for Vuitton by guest designers are displayed alongside the works of art. The collection will be rotated every three months so that the exhibition is constantly fresh.
Trunks and perfumes
The essential purpose of the space though, is to display products from the various specialities of Louis Vuitton. Luggage, ready-to-wear, jewellery, watchmaking, leather goods, shoes, perfumes, accessories - all the variations of the brand are displayed in the 1,460 m² of this authentic and aesthetic showcase of its savoire-faire.
There are also two workshops: one dedicated to fine jewellery, the other, "Rare & Exceptional", where VIPs can discover the latest pieces and have them adapted to suit their personal tastes and styles.
This is a return to its origins for the fashion house. Louis Vuitton, creator of the famous travel trunk, opened his first store close by in 1854. The illustrious founder watches with a benevolent eye from a portrait by Yan Pei Ming that’s displayed in the store, and surely the audacity of this artistic and inspired store would have pleased him.