Louis Vuitton decided to take advantage of the Universal Exhibition in Shanghai "to celebrate the tradition of Universal Exhibitions". The brand recounts how it was born with the Exhibition of 1867, how the Monogram canvas was presented for the first time at the 1889 Exhibition, how the first soft luggage bags were on the stand of the 1900 Exhibition... A display tells this story at the Plaza 66 – the foremost upscale mall in Shanghai.
The brand therefore inscribes its own story within the story. It recreates a magical, fairytale world where the most beautiful creations are presented: it tells us about travel, exoticism, the great luxury hotels and ocean-liners... It also instructs the Chinese consumer.
Dior builds a story around an iconic product: the Lady Dior bag - and links it to China in a wonderful story. It takes place in two stages. In front of Plaza 66 we find one of the artworks commissioned from Chinese artists and exhibited in 2008 at the Ullens Center of Contemporary Art in Beijing (see my post of May 3, 2009: "Dior, China and Art: a rare alchemy"): an enormous Lady Dior bag formed of neon tubes. The new store that was inaugurated on 15 May has on it, for its part, an image of Marion Cotillard - from the "Lady Dior Affair" saga (the latest David Lynch film “Lady Blue”) with a background of Shanghai... held by the arm by a Chinese gangster in true '30s style ... Dior thereby inscribes itself in an artistic modernity, in history as well as in the modern city.
Dunhill has lodged itself in an extraordinary locale for the last year: Two houses built in the 20's, hidden in a garden, which one can enter through a porch at 796 Huaihai Road. Yann Debelle de Montby, who was then Director of the Brand's Image, laid out here a Dunhill living space. It is one of the four "Dunhill Houses" (the others are in London, Tokyo and Hong Kong) where there is a 'Travel & Discovery Room', a 'Barber' area, a 'Tailor' area... The brand is set out as though "inhabited" - as if Alfred Dunhill himself were receiving his Chinese customers in a place chosen by him.
- Kiehl's is installed at Isetan and displays its familiar apothecary world. However, as with every time I come across its corners or boutiques, I can only admire the force of its visual merchandising: Today very few beauty brands have built a universe that tells a story and gives flight to the imagination. They most often have a very simple story line of the type problem / solution or "heroic" (the ingredient is going to ... the research that has..). Kiehl's fulfils our need to hope and dream.