There's been much trumpeting in the press about the new luxury Louis Vuitton store opening today in London's Bond Street. TWR went for a quick pre opening tour and marvelled at the lacquered surfaces (Aniegre and Alfromosia wood), shiny shelves (gold titanium plated metal, honestly, that's what they said) and permenant art (including two Gilbert & George's, a Damien Hirst and a Jeff Koons to name just a few). Lovely, it's a little bling-y for my taste but really, you can't fault the quality.
But we felt a little uneasy about the bigger message this brand-behomoth is broadcasting. As I caught the tube home from the preview, the Evening Standard was full of news of the Government slicing services (and that means jobs) and trying to figure out how to cope with a £760 billion national debt. Somehow the idea of spending a couple of grand on a handbag made from 'exotic' leather (ground floor, next to a display of Princess Margarets' old suitcases) seems depressingly unrealistic.
I'm all for retailers investing in lovely destinations for us customers to enjoy -it's our loyalty dividend for buying if you like -but this feels a little Marie-Antoinette-let-them-eat-cake-ish to me. A point rather ironically reinforced on the first floor of the store -sorry- Maison, where stylist Katie Grand has curated an retrospective exhibition of mannequins wearing LV clothes from almost every season of Marc Jacobs' tenure as designer. It's not the exquisite designs -with their mink trims and embossed gold details- that catch the eye, it's the fact that each of the mannequins has a bag obscurring her head, making her blind to what's happening around her (alright I KNOW mannequins can't really see but you get my point here…). I can't help but think that Katie might have been trying to tell us something.
Anyway, do go and see the store if you are in the area, if only to see where they've spent the money. It wasn't on the flowers, which were beautifully simple and low key. They were our favourite thing in the shop.