Aug 1, 2012
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Louis Vuitton opens its biggest Chinese flagship store in Shanghai

Aug 1, 2012

The Louis Vuitton Express pulled into its final station last Thursday, 19th July. Launched on the internet on 3rd July, the web project was tasked with building hype around the opening of Louis Vuitton’s biggest Chinese flagship store, spread over four floors in the city’s luxury shopping centre. The Paris-Shanghai project was given its own website and significant attention by the worldwide press. The opening was streamed live on the website, with a Chinese commentator taking on presenting duties.

Designed by Peter Marino, the flagship store’s four levels bring together the ready-to-wear, accessories, menswear and shoe collections, as well as a bespoke tailoring service. With 41 boutiques already in the country, the luxury house plans to open another flagship in 2013 in Beijing, and then to concentrate on consolidating its network rather than opening more stores, according to Christopher Zanardi-Landi, president of Louis Vuitton China and vice-president of the label, in an interview with Reuters. For the time being Louis Vuitton doesn’t have any grand plans for expanding in China, but instead wants to focus on “optimising the services on offer in existing stores and their move upmarket” with the new Plaza 66 Maison as a yard mark, “the ultimate luxury experience”, according to the label’s vice-president.

The opening of the 16th Louis Vuitton Maison took place on 19th July, with Louis Vuitton’s management – Yves Carcelle, Christopher Zanardi-Landi (president of Louis Vuitton China) and Marc Jacobs – in attendance, along with French celebrities such as actor Alain Delon and model Laetitia Casta, and Chinese actress Fan Bing Bing.

The star of the show, the famous steam train that was unveiled in Paris in March, showed off its pulling power at a repeat of the Louis Vuitton autumn-winter 2012/2013 runway show, some of whose pieces are already on sale in the flagship whose opening was being celebrated. Each model took to the runway with monogrammed bags and luggage, as in Paris.

The Louis Vuitton autumn-winter 2012/2013 runway show was recreated especially for the event / Photo: DR

The jewel in the crown of the world’s biggest luxury group had more than one reason to pull out all the stops for the celebrations. The label’s links to China go all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century, when the first Louis Vuitton monogrammed trunks went on their travels, accompanying the 1907 Paris-Beijing expedition. As a modern luxury label, Louis Vuitton later set foot in China in 1992 with its first boutique in Beijing – meaning the label is also celebrating twenty years in China, with the help of signs reminding guests of the French luggage company’s roots.

One of the Shanghai Louis Vuitton Maison’s window displays / Photo: Louis Vuitton

On display in the public areas of the Plaza 66 shopping centre is a retrospective exhibition on the theme of travel, which has also inspired the photography book “Escales autour du monde”, which will be released in September in French, English and Chinese. Travel is also the theme of the label’s long-running ‘Core Values’ campaign, featuring Mohamed Ali and his grandson. As a result, Louis Vuitton has released its first leather punching ball, which can be glimpsed in the window display of the new Louis Vuitton Maison in Shanghai.

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