If there were any doubts that Shanghai was the ‘Paris of the East’ they were surely dismissed last week as Louis Vuitton (LV) took over the city. LV banners lined the streets, massive LV billboards beamed from buildings, newspaper covers were dedicated to the brand, and entire skyscrapers lit up with LV animations and logos. Major global popular websites including the New York Time’s also featured banner ads this week announcing the arrival of the Louis Vuitton Express in Shanghai.
Why all the pomp and dazzle? It was all the to celebrate the opening of LV’s biggest China store in Shanghai’s Plaza 66 Mall. Each Vuitton store is classified according to size, location and merchandise, with the Plaza 66 store now being one of only 16 Maison stores around the world. The Maison stores are all mega-stores and located in prominent locations around the world in cities such as Paris, Hong Kong and New York. The Maisons feature the entire range of Louis Vuitton products including each season’s current collection of fashion and accessories plus special merchandise specific to that store. In the Plaza 66 Maison shoppers can expect to find Louis Vuitton punching bags, hammocks and portable artists benches alongside a made-to-measure shoe and luggage service.
Many of the top brass of Louis Vuitton including owner Bernard Arnault, CEO Yves Carcelle and Artistic Director Marc Jacobs travelled to Shanghai for the opening party and fashion show. They were accompanied by a swollen delegation of other LVMH brand CEOs, celebrities, VIP guests and media for several days of events all surrounding the store and the arrival of the Louis Vuitton Express.
Designed by famous retail architect Peter Marino (who attended the opening in head-to-toe motorcycle leathers and a fresh mohawk), the new store spans three floors and several thousand square meters to make it not only the biggest store in China, but one of the biggest Louis Vuitton stores worldwide. In the interview I conducted with Peter Marino last September, he stated that China stores were built ‘tougher‘ than most to withstand the much higher numbers of customer who traipse through them. This follows suit with Vuitton’s iconic luggage which was truly built to last the rigours of nineteenth century travel on trains, camels, tanks and alike as the brand proudly displayed at their Voyages exhibition last year in Beijing.
With a spiral staircase decked out brass and leather handrails, opulent marble and contemporary sculptures and art works throughout, the store is a must-see for anyone with an ounce of interest in the fashion and design world. See more of Peter Marino’s store designs and a link to the Business of Fashion interview here.
To accompany the opening, LV set up a special travel exhibition set up in Plaza 66 which gives further insights into the brands travel history.
Below are some images from the store and opening party, plus even more here on the Retail Design Blog.
The store is in Plaza 66 Mall, 1266Nanjing West Road, Shanghai