The Louis Vuitton shopping experience has always been luxurious. You can peruse the rows of the brand’s signature dark leather purses etched with their classic “LV” print or flit through the expensive expanse of decadent textiles and fabrics laid out before you. A certain high is obtained when handed those sunset orange shopping bags with the royal blue handles that fit so effortlessly in the hand. Yes, Louis Vuitton knows how to provide a quality shopping experience and now, it seems, they also know how to provide quality food service as well.
Just a few days ago, the brand opened its doors to a new four-story flagship store in Osaka, Japan, allocating a portion of the square footage to two high-end venues with menus crafted by the renowned Japanese chef, Yosuke “Suga” Sugalabo. The brand’s endeavor into the culinary arts comes at a time when in-store sales are plummeting throughout the fashion industry. As such, this new venture is a plea for shoppers to come, visit, and enjoy in the hopes that it will resuscitate revenue.
Despite the dire condition of stores that exist in an increasingly-digital age, you would never be able to tell that there was any sort of fiscal struggle after seeing this new, stunning architectural development. This particular Louis Vuitton emporium was brought to life by the genius collaboration of Jun Aoki and Peter Marino, both of whom have worked to bring the brand’s image to life before.
The massive façade alludes to the billowing sails of Higaki-Kaisen cargo ships that were popular during Japan’s Edo period. Once you step inside, you’re transported to this ineffable, bright open space that makes use of the store’s ample natural light to give the ambience a certain ethereal feel. If you make your way to Le Café V or Sugalabo V restaurant, you’ll become even more enamored with the structural integrity of this flagship.
Le Café V features a retro wooden high top bar that’s shaped as if to operate as the bow of a ship. Hanging from the ceiling are pieces of dichroic film that evoke images of sea glass strewn across a beach. The scene at Sugalabo V is much different, exchanging the airy elegance of the store for a dark-hued retreat. Your first steps carry you across trompe l’oeil floors into a wood-paneled dream. Copper, bronze, and steel tones accent the room while pops of blue, orange, and yellow can be seen in the chairs that buttress the sleek wooden tables and bar.
Only time will tell how the flagship store measures its success in this unstoppable time of technological change and evolution.
words Kate Macchi