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Wow. Sometimes superlatives aren’t enough. To truly appreciate the first-ever Louis Vuitton airport store in the world you have to see it. These pictures only hint at the scale and elegance of the shop, opened in association with The Shilla Duty Free at Incheon International Airport on Saturday.
At 550sq m it’s big. Very big. But the abiding impression is not of size but of ambience. This may be one of the hottest contemporary brands on the planet but the store is a throwback to yesteryear, to a golden age when travellers thought, to quote the great American travel writer Paul Theroux, ‘the journey’s the thing’.
The store is an adroit blend of luxury and nostalgia, featuring several reproductions of beautiful old advertisements from early last century. The piece de resistance in the entrance hall portrays (from behind glass) a beautifully evocative scene of elephants being led across a desert in India with old Louis Vuitton trunks strapped to their backs. The 3D effect creates a moment frozen in time as one is transported to a place and an era when travel was a more leisurely proposition.
Deliberately there’s no product on offer in this area – instead it acts as a mood-setter, allowing the traveller a moment to reorientate themselves from the bustle and stress of an airport a few yards away teeming with thousands of people.
The product is, of course, wonderful – there’s a selection from the whole Vuitton range except ready-to-wear – but for me what makes this store so special is the exterior, especially the window displays, all linked to flight.
Look at the lovely shot below of the little boy being beckoned by his father who’s just taken his photo against the background of aircraft old and new (with old bi-planes deliberately to the fore) interspersed with Louis Vuitton items. Nearby there’s a hauntingly serene image of a giant red air balloon floating over a lake.
During the ten minutes or so I stood outside the store today I saw scores of travellers taking similar pictures. Disappointingly a polite but over-zealous shop security man kept telling them ‘no photos’. I’d suggest a rapid change of policy there – this is one of the great photo opportunities in the entire airport world. It’s marvelous publicity for the brand.
Let the travellers enjoy their moment of being carried back into the world of Louis Vuitton please.