Design: Peter Marino Architect
Opening date: October 2017
Store size: 3,500 sq m
Louis Vuitton has opened the Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme, a new gem at 2 Place Vendôme in Paris, newly designed and reinstated by architect Peter Marino. The new location marks the fashion house's return to where its story began more than 160 years ago, when a young Louis Vuitton opened his first store.
Travel goods, fashion and jewellery have been part of Place Vendôme and its neighbourhood for more than 300 years, and it was in these streets that Louis Vuitton learnt his craft and where he founded his first store in 1854. Opening its doors on Wednesday 4th October, the new store will reunite Place Vendôme and the House's traditional métiers. Couture, ready-to-wear, jewellery, watchmaking, leather goods, shoes, fragrances, accessories, and artisanal workshops will be brought together, all in one place.
This venue is very symbolic for Louis Vuitton as the Place Vendôme – just like the Château of Versailles – is one of the most beautiful examples of French artistry of the 17th Century. Both designed and built by architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Place Vendôme and Versailles share a heritage that today remains important to Louis Vuitton.
These two beautiful examples of French artistry embody the type of elegance and dedication to craft that is today the realm of Louis Vuitton. As the worthy heir to this tradition, it was only natural for Louis Vuitton to establish workshops and showcases its creations at the heart of Place Vendôme, thus ensuring that the legacy continues for future generations.
The Maison is situated in two hôtel particuliers – classic Parisian townhouses – which, over the years have been home to courtiers, nobles, aristocracy, the occasional princess and the future emperor Napoléon III. Architect Peter Marino has now returned these two buildings to their former glory. Floors have been returned to their 18th Century grandeur, ceilings to their original heights (nearly five metres on the first floor), and the façade, designed by Hardouin-Mansart, has been sensitively restored. Throughout the Maison, Marino has blended the old and new, employing techniques and materials that reference French history and craftsmanship, while carefully integrating ultra-modern designs. Behind the original façade, the Maison has been designed to be open and filled with light. The extensive use of glass, light-coloured stone, artisanal wall coverings, and parquet and stone flooring allows each floor to subtly assert its unique character, while remaining part of a coherent whole.
On the ground floor, natural light from the many windows and doorways illuminates the leather goods, accessories, textiles, fragrances and, on the Place Vendôme side, a full range of jewellery and timepieces. The men's department is located upstairs on the mezzanine, with leather goods, ready-to-wear including the formal offer, shoes, travel items and accessories displayed on leather-lined shelving.
The stairs, which continue to the first floor, provide high levels of contrast: 18th Century design in stone completed with ultra-modern high-tech glass balustrades suspended by stainless steel cables. On this first floor are the women’s ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories, presented in a beautifully airy, high-ceilinged space with richly intricate Versailles parquet.
On the second floor, travel-related items – from Louis Vuitton City Guides and travel books to luggage – share space with the Objets Nomades, a collection of designer travel and home related objects, offered for the first time in France on a permanent basis. There is also a hot-stamping desk and a Savoir-faire corner, the latter being the House’s first permanent space offering demonstrations of Louis Vuitton’s traditional know-how to clients. On the Place Vendôme side, the second floor hosts the Appartement, where clients can be invited for private viewings of the collection.
The Maison Louis Vuitton Vendôme will be home to two working ateliers, representative of the House’s ancestral savoir-faire. The haute joaillerie atelier, hidden away discreetly under the eaves, is where Louis Vuitton’s jewellers will transform precious stones into the House’s most exclusive high jewellery. In the Atelier Rare & Exceptionnel, celebrities and the House’s most prestigious clients will have the chance to discover pieces from the latest collections. These can then be fitted and customised by the atelier’s in-house artisans, who will also be available to fashion exclusive red-carpet gowns.
Art plays an important part in the interiors. The brand's full product offer sits alongside a selection of contemporary artworks, some specially commissioned. The 33 works, representing artists from six continents including Laurent Grasso, Yan Pei Ming, Stephen Sprouse, Serge Alain Nitegeka and Paul Nabulumo Namarinjmak, are on show throughout the space.
The Louis Vuitton archives have chosen two historical trunks to display at the Maison. The first is a Library Trunk, a style originally designed by Gaston-Louis Vuitton (1883-1970) for his personal use. This example, was ordered in 1933 by Mrs. W., a celebrated journalist, playwright and Hollywood screenwriter, and has space for books and a typewriter. The second piece is a 1917 Steamer Trunk, a recent addition to the House’s archives. Its presence in the Maison is fitting: its original owner, Mr. O., was one of Paris’ most admired and influential jewellers for over two decades and for many years was based only a few doors away at 16 Place Vendôme.
Photography: © Louis Vuitton Stéphane Muratet