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In Louis Vuitton’s Studio

Kuoni’s first fashion trip took guests to the inner sanctum of the luxury fashion empire

The first cultimo fashion trip, organized by Kuoni in collaboration with Swiss fashion magazine Bolero, took place between 4 and 7 November 2010. The itinerary included an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Louis Vuitton studio, a culinary experience at the renowned Baccarat Cristal Room and, of course, an expedition into Paris’s fashion quarter.

We all met up at Zurich Airport on Thursday lunchtime. The two elegant sisters from Lucerne who had given each other the trip as a gift, the bag designer from Berne, the marketing manager from Eastern Switzerland, the architect from Zug and, of course, the editor-in-chief of Bolero magazine. All were curious, mad about fashion, and already easily identified by their high-class Louis Vuitton luggage. There was a huge sense of anticipation – and great expectations. The pre-publicity for the trip had promised an exclusive insight into the work done at Louis Vuitton’s studio. No further details were provided because officially such visits to the inner sanctum of the Louis Vuitton luxury fashion empire are not allowed. Even the location of the studio had to remain a secret until the last moment.

The highlight of the trip came on the first full day: Friday, a day dominated by Louis Vuitton. A Louis Vuitton bus, accompanied by an escort of Mercedes limousines, first drove us to the Musée Carnavalet in the city’s Marais district. The exhibition at the museum was called “Voyage en Capital – Louis Vuitton & Paris”. Louis Vuitton suitcases are icons; symbols of the adventurous spirit, and to this day they are still the travel companions of choice for the rich and beautiful. The exhibition told the Louis Vuitton story in typically graphic fashion and included several very special pieces, including a tailor-made bed-trunk.

After this fascinating lesson in fashion history, our next stop was the Champs-Elysées, or more precisely the Ladurée store located on Paris’s premiere boulevard. The famous Parisian patisserie has been spoiling its customers with luxurious delicacies for almost 150 years; we were treated to “terrine de légumes et beignet de chèvre” and “rouget au wasabi”, followed, of course, by a desert of Ladurée’s famous macaroons in every conceivable flavour. Suitably fortified, we made our way to a shrine for Louis Vuitton fans – the company’s flagship store on the Champs-Elysées.
With images of the end-products we’d seen in the shop fresh in our minds, the luxury bus then took us to the suburb where luggage and special commissions are still made for a worldwide market. This unassuming – in fact quite ugly – part of the city didn’t promise much, until the point at which Louis Vuitton opened its doors to us. We were there: in Louis’ den.
Louis Vuitton hostesses guided us into the building in which the Vuitton family had lived, and then divided us into two groups before taking us into the studio itself. Fascination showed in the faces of all the travellers. And if they weren’t already planning a purchase, after this very private and exclusive insight into the work of Louis Vuitton, everyone had the same thought: I must have another one! Or maybe: I must have one! Because even the few participants who did not yet own a Louis Vuitton bag were desperate to go back and get one the next day. After the studio visit, we relaxed in the Vuitton salon with a glass of Veuve Clicquot and mulled over the unique experience we had just had. All were impressed, some even moved by the passion and craft they had been privileged to witness at first hand.

Next evening we had dinner together at the fashionable Baccarat Cristal Room restaurant. Lively conversation and exquisite food were enjoyed in the elegant, opulent surroundings designed by Philippe Starck. And then on Sunday it was time to travel back to Zurich with plenty of fashion ideas and lots of fashionable purchases, as well as new contacts and enduring memories. Ideas are being considered for further cultimo fashion trips, and potential participants have already registered their interest: our group definitely wants to come again. Favourite choices after Paris? Undoubtedly Milan and London.
www.cultimo.ch
(AM)