“Stores will become museums” – this premonition comes from the Nostradamus of art and pop culture, Andy Warhol. When you see the marvel that is the Louis Vuitton store on the Champs-Elysées, it’s obvious that he wasn’t too far off. London, New York, Jakarta, Hong Kong, and a number of others… while the trunkmaker is eminently present on the four corners of the planet with 346 stores, it’s in Paris, the label’s home turf, that the whole world can truly behold their multiple talents. Louis Vuitton is a special brand, over a hundred years old and always where you least expect them. With a limitless and trans-disciplinary creativity, Louis Vuitton set up shop at 101 Avenue des Champs-Elysées – with a massive renovation in 2005. The result is just as impressive: a cathedral of Vuitton, spread out over 1,800 m2. Eric Carlson and Peter Morino built a 4-level space on a single floor, made of soft ramps and a sharp game of mirrors that literally turns clients’ heads. Every weekend, a long queue of curious clientele from around the world forms in front of the store’s front doors – in a twist of historical irony, it ends up in front of the store’s 1914 location at 70 Avenue des Champs-Elysées.
But the 101 flagship is by no means stuck in the past. Offering everything from leathergoods to jewelry, ready-to-wear, Vuitton stationery, and a book store, the space is conceived with avant-garde architecture that offers an almost unlimited line of products. Louis Vuitton’s ties with the art world have never seemed as strong as they are today. Art is completely anchored in the architecture of this shop of wonders: Olafur Eliasson and his ‘Loss of Senses’ elevator, James Turell and his modular and bright sculptures, Tim White-Sobieski and his spectacular 20-meter “mobile stairway” with vast fiber optic panels… Everything seems to be in perfect harmony with the Vuitton universe within which the Monogram, sometimes a logo and sometimes a canvas, occupies the place of honor. The trunk becomes an architectural fabric here changing along with the desires of the day.
At 101 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, you can sit at the Bag Bar, or see an exhibit in the cultural expression space. “This house on the Champs-Elysées is a pole of attraction,” observed ex-president Yves Carcelle. “Louis Vuitton has always been located at the height of creation. This house is still at the head of fashion more than a century later thanks to a valuation of our heritage while we continue to anticipate coming trends,” highlights Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton’s current president/director general. It’s true that there is no store quite like this one: a flagship that’s overflowing with creativity, offering much more than just a place to get your hands on Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest pieces, it delivers an experience that’s completely out of the ordinary.