What does luxury powerhouse Louis Vuitton do as designers step away from haute couture and multi-national brands file for bankruptcy? They throw a party – several in fact.
Still basking in the golden glow of their World Cup triumph – providing the trunk from which the cup itself traveled from Paris to Johannesburg – the legendry fashion house finally opened its long-awaited Beirut store with a string of soirees and press events. The ostentatious branded trunk facade that covered the Beirut Souqs store whilst it was being prepared came off with a fanfare, perfectly illustrating the statements of brazen confidence from Vuitton’s chief executive officer Yves Carcelle.
“We were the only brand which published double digit growth 2009 worldwide, so yes there was a crisis but we didn’t feel it. We rather have the feeling that each time there is a crisis, that reinforces our market share because people in these periods tend to turn to objects of real value,” said Carcelle at the July 15 opening of the Allenby Street boutique. The Beirut store marks Vuitton’s 453rd store worldwide with regional outlets in Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah. In addition to the traditional Louis Vuitton luggage, bags and shoes, the brand will also produce a city guide for Beirut, as they do for all of their stores, with restaurants, hotels and activities fitting the brand, which should be available in October. Joseph Ghosn, editor in chief of several Conde Nast Paris websites and a native of Lebanon will be heading the effort.
Vuitton is one of the headlining brands of luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH). In 2009 LVMH profits dropped 13 percent, causing group Chairman Bernard Renault to announce that “bling went out of fashion with the crisis.” But Vuitton seems to be one of the few brands not affected by the bling backlash.
Though Louis Vuitton has been growing strongly, the brand’s behavior is congruent with current trends in the luxury fashion world, which is squarely looking east.
In October 2009, Vuitton became one of the first luxury brands to open a store in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The brand is also choosing to upgrade its flagship stores in London and Paris, even in these lean times.