>> The last whiff of Marc Jacobs' design imprint will be ushered into the Louis Vuitton retail universe over the next few months before Nicolas Ghesqui√®re takes over with I-don't-know-what-but-it-will-definitely-be-amazing. Before we start peering ahead into the crystal ball come March though, let's pause and reflect on the often exceedingly good clothes that the maison turns out, but so often doesn't really get the attention that their counterpart bags do. Nothing I'm wearing below save for the shoes (sensible, reasonable, pink ponyskin – go gets from Whistles) is for keepsies but a day walking around in a cocoon of of a checkered coat from the A/W 13-4 collection, dipped and ombred in sequins, is enough of an experience to appreciate how exceedingly plush it is – as noted by both a) the guy who serves me fish and chips and b) a PR at a press day. Yes, I've used the word "exceedingly" twice. Logic being that Mr Kipling does nice cakes and ergo Louis Vuitton does nice coats.
Likewise, the Louis Vuitton Townhouse, which has just opened in Selfridges, shines the spotlight on its whole range of offerings, rather than the more well-known bags. It is less like the typical LV store, which aims to flog as many handbags to Chinese tourists as humanely possible, than… well… someone's actual townhouse that just so happens to be attached to one of the busiest department stores in the world. The central focal point of this new three-storey extravaganza is a Willy Wonka-esque slowly revolving lift, taking you through the floors of womenswear, menswear and accessories and leather goods. An architectural feat that serves the purpose of not only looking mighty impressive but connecting the floors with fluidity. Not sure if they're a permanent feature but on the day of opening, Jacobs' legacy lingered on as those A/W 11 Night Porter-inspired French maids were out in force with their feather dusters. That's when you started remembering all the brillliang "Marc-isms" that Jacobs bought to the maison.
As Business of Fashion's excellent analysis of the space tells you, the Townhouse is designed to be more "democratic" – whatever that means in the scheme of a space, where nothing is ever going to be cheap as chips – to suit the Selfridges customer, but also to be all encompassing so that in the future, whatever strategy the head honchos at LVMH spins, and what direction Ghesqui√®re will be taking their wares, their reliance isn't solely on the stable monogram handbag. In fact, your eye is drawn to the delicate lace-trimmed satin floral dresses, the Jake and Dinos Chapman print scarves, the veiled handbands and yes, that very coat I'm wearing, which hangs on the women's floor. The cramped Louis Vuitton concession in the bag department of Selfridges, which often had a queue snaking outside because of its popularity, has now been replaced with a space the brand duly deserves and requires in an environment like Selfridges. The ever-varying and often-unpredictable customer might even be in the mood for dip dyed sequins on a coat as opposed to monograms on a bag.