Louis Vuitton is transforming its spring 2015 fashion show into an interactive, multimedia experience that's free to the public, opening just ahead of the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles next month.
There will be no product for sale at the space on North Highland Avenue, a former camera store, just an exhibition designed to let visitors go behind the scenes of creating a runway collection and staging a fashion show.
Open Feb. 6 for two weeks, and titled "Series 2: A Presentation of the Timeless Inspirations Behind a New Collection," it will feature a series of rooms with displays that shed light on the influences and inspirations behind the spring runway show I described as "luxe-meets-lava lamp." The collection originally premiered during Paris Fashion Week in October 2014, inside the silvery Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton museum, and will be landing in stores soon.
Women's artistic director Nicolas Ghesquiere will be in L.A. for the opening event on Feb. 5, in his first official visit since taking over at Vuitton.
The news comes on the heels of several other luxury players announcing plans to stage major events in the celebrity mecca of L.A. On Feb. 20, Tom Ford will host his fall 2015 runway show here two days before the Oscars. And on May 9, Dior will bring its Cruise 2015 runway show to town.
But Vuitton's strategy is more consumer-facing, in the grand tradition of SoCal showman Walt Disney, perhaps. "Series 2" follows a similar exhibition, titled "Series 1," about Ghesquiere's first collection, which was staged in Shanghai and Tokyo last year.
Vuitton seems to be aiming to bring the entertainment value of a blockbuster runway show to customers and brand enthusiasts in a way that's more intimate than watching it live on a computer screen. And in a time when some luxury brands spend as much money staging fashion shows as some Hollywood studios do producing films, it makes sense to try to capitalize on the experience by bringing it closer to home. Could we see a Louis Vuitton or Chanel theme park next? Don't laugh. Sanrio opened a Hello Kitty theme park in China last year.
But the Vuitton experience will no doubt be more high-brow. Visitors will enter the exhibition through an oversized LV logo (naturally), modeled after the one initially used as the seal of trunk maker and house founder Louis Vuitton in 1854, and revived by Ghesquiere after his arrival.
They will get to experience the opening animation from the women's runway show, which includes a cast of cool-looking avatars, and gaze at hologram projections of the iconic trunk, the building block of Vuitton's global luxury business.
In another room will be a re-creation of the show's backstage space, where visitors can experience the production day calm-and-chaos, and the fray of the post-show celebration. There will be 360-degree projections of models in the 48 looks from the collection, and accessories showcased next to heritage pieces that inspired their design.
The timing of "Series 2" comes right after reopening of Louis Vuitton's flagship on Rodeo Drive, slated for Jan. 31. The space at Rodeo and Dayton Way has gotten a complete overhaul by architect Peter Marino, and will feature an array of artwork, and display the custom LV trunks made for Wes Anderson's 2007 film "Darjeeling Limited," in another nod to our company town.