Last month, Louis Vuitton opened a boutique of 150 sq. mts. exclusively for jewellery at the Place Vendôme – also installing its jewellery atelier on the first floor. This initiative has been hailed as proof of the upmarket progression of the LVMH brand which - with a location in the emblematic site of luxury French jewellery and its own workshop - acquires a stamp of legitimacy in a category where Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels (the direct competitors of the brands of the Richemont group) shine.
Louis Vuitton - in this year of transition, which will see the departure of its iconic Managing Director, Yves Carcelle - is present on all fronts. I will focus on four major initiatives:
- The opening of the first shop-in-shop for shoes (September 2012) at Saks Fifth Avenue: as usual, the brand will self-manage this space. For the occasion, a limited-edition shoe design will be created and sold exclusively in this shop-in-shop. Louis Vuitton again reinforces its legitimacy in a category where it has been present only for the last few years.
- The launch of the first LV perfume: In January this year, the brand recruited a perfumer, Jacques Cavalier - creator of Eau d'Issey (Issey Miyake), Midnight Poison (Dior), Acqua di Gio (Armani), Opium pour Homme (Yves Saint Laurent) and Poème (Lancôme). Like its glasses and watches, the perfumes will be sold exclusively in the LV boutiques – and not through specialized distributors. The brand launched perfumes previously (Heures d'Absence/ Je Tu Il / Eau de Voyage) in the 1920's/1930's. For Louis Vuitton, it is here again a question of investing in a category that is essential today in order to build up the legitimacy of a luxury brand AND to boost its operating margins.
- The artistic and commercial collaboration with the Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusuma - in the form of 7 pop-up stores (the first opened on 10th July in the Soho boutique in New York - the eve of the opening of the retrospective Whitney Museum dedicated to the artist - others will follow at Printemps Paris, at Selfridges in London in late August, at Pacific Place, Hong Kong, Ngee Ann City in Singapore and Isetan in Tokyo). These temporary boutiques, designed by the artist, will sell a collection of ready-to-wear created by Yayoi Kusuma for Louis Vuitton. These products will later be available in all the brand's boutiques. Vuitton thus follows its logic of collaboration with contemporary artists (Takashi Murakami, Stephen Sprouse, Richard Prince, among others) to the end: this is the first time it opens several pop-up stores exclusively dedicated to collaboration of this type.
- The "Voyage" theme returns: the "Louis Vuitton Express" is the common theme of the new advertising campaign of the brand and displayed at the newly-renovated Plaza 66 boutique in Shanghai. A film and a mini site allows Louis Vuitton to dramatize the imagery linked to the brand - the voyages by train during the 19th century ...
Louis Vuitton - with these numerous initiatives - confirms that it is one of the most innovative, modern and active luxury brands. It strengthens its business model (an exclusive distributor with its own network), its legitimacy as a global luxury brand (by entering new categories), its status as an active and creative brand (its collaboration with contemporary artists), ... and its presence in China, currently the largest luxury market. Yves Carcelle's "reign" will therefore end in a blaze of glory - but LVMH has announced so many successors over the last 10 years that some still doubt whether he will really be leaving!