Last time A-Gent of Style featured Louis Vuitton in his blog, Marc Jacobs was taking a bow as the artisitc director of the French luxury brand in a spectacular show. A couple of months ago, rumours were rife as to whom would be replacing the American designer after his sixteen-year reign. As A-Gent of Style predicted, “le petit Nicholas”, former Balenciaga designer Nicholas Ghesquière, has now been ‘anointed’ at the
hem helm of Louis Vuitton. A lot of exciting projects have materialised since then and A-Gent of Style turned up at his ‘corner shop’ to investigate one of them.
Louis Vuitton’s new urban retail destination store, The LV Townhouse, opened a few weeks ago at London’s Selfridges and has taken the concept of
retail (so last century) ‘immersive theatre’ to a completely new level.
The staggering 10,000-square-foot “store within a store” spreads over three inter-connecting floors linked by a state-of-the-art circular glass lift and houses leather goods, accessories and travel items on the ground floor boasting its own re-discovered art deco entrance on Oxford Street whilst Men’s ready-to-wear occupies the first floor and Women’s ready to-wear the second floor.
“We have the concept of the ‘maison,’ which is very Latin”, says Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton. “The ‘townhouse’ instead is an Anglo-Saxon concept. The space is welcoming, homey, but there is a sense of discovery and experience.”
This tour de force of design which took five years to engineer is the brainchild of French-born Tokyo-based designer Gwenaël Nicolas. The interiors of the dramatic space are a symphony of materials such as glass, stone, leather and wood and the palette is made of gold, sand and tortoise shell. Fitting rooms walls are covered in two layers of fabric, mirrors are embedded with white porcelain flowers and butterflies. Especially commissioned artworks and designs are by
Katsumi Hayakawa and Barnaby Barford.
The ground floor:
The double-helix, DNA-shaped glass lift’s spiral structure spins slowly between the floors to display ‘floating’ hand bags and allows the customers to travel up and down the collections.
“We worked so long with Louis Vuitton, and what we wanted for this space was incredible architecture, innovative technology and art. And I loved the notion of travel, the sense of a journey.” adds Alannah Weston, creative director at Selfridges. “I wanted this store to be a one-off, something that people would travel to see”. Mission accomplished.
The ground floor’s “Digital Atelier” allows customers to experience the history and craftsmanship of the brand via table-mounted touch screens, create interactively bespoke bags and luggage, and make wish lists that are automatically transferred to the shop assistants’iPads. There is also a personal monogramming service.
The first floor and the Men’s ready-to-wear:
The second floor and the Women’s ready-to-wear:
In spring 2014, The Townhouse will offer an exclusive prelaunch of Icônes collection, inspired by the French Modernist designer and architect
Charlotte Perriand, as well as the men’s spring 2014 pre-collection.
Now, that’s something A-Gent of Style will look forward to seeing in the new year.
A friends’ reunion in an idyllically cosy farmhouse in Cornwall last weekend made A-Gent of Style think about nook areas in a house, whether they are in a kitchen, a bedroom or a landing, either tucked away in a corner of a room, situated on a window sill or built between two bookcases, providing an intimate and semi-private cocoon where one can relax, take refuge or cuddle up with a book, an Ipad or just one’s thoughts.
Last Saturday, A-Gent of Style travelled to Hackney in North London to attend Cressida Bell’s Christmas Open Studio. A-Gent has always been very much aware of the artist and designer but also Charleston House in East Sussex and of course Bell’s famous lineage, so without hesitation, he enjoyed a jaunt to Clarence Mews,
“a bucolic enclave in the heart of Hackney”.
A-Gent of Style was thrilled not only to see for the first time under one roof the colourful, bold and highly patterned artefacts Cressida Bell is renowned for but also to meet the designer and visit the enchanting studio where she works her magic.
Cressida Bell is a direct descendant of the major members of the Bloomsbury group; her grandmother was the artist Vanessa Bell and her grandfather the critic
Clive Bell, her great-aunt Virginia Woolf and her father, the critic, author and artist Quentin Bell. Bell studied fashion and textile design at St. Martins School of Art followed in 1984 by an M.A in textile design from the Royal College of Art.
Despite being exposed at Charleston to paintings, painted walls, stained glass and textiles all designed by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and being unconsciously influenced by the Bloomsbury artists, Cressida Bell has managed to forge her own identity and style and has drawn her inspiration from many sources such as African and Indian cultures.
The studio is everything you may have imagined and much more. It felt a bit like being in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul with its exquisite eclecticism and richly embellished, contrasting patterns and vibrant colours. The overall look and aesthetics of Cressida Bell’s style is also somehow reminiscent of René Matisse,
Jean Cocteau or Cecil Beaton designs who too liked to paint the surfaces of their surroundings and created unique and original pieces of art.
Just as imagine Charleston House to be (A-Gent has to admit he has yet to see the iconic Sussex country retreat of Bell’s well-known Bloomsbury Group forebears.
A road trip last summer was aborted but it is now at the top of the 2014 resolution list), every inch of the studio is decorated or covered by something; painted doors, furniture or clocks, bespoke rugs, sketches, drawings, invitations, announcements illustrations, cookery posters, plates, fabric shreds, test sheets, paint pots, brushes and printing screens. That weekend, there was a plethora of tantalising treasures all for sale such as hand-painted lamp stands and shades, stationery, greeting and Christmas cards, and Bell’s ten-metre long printing table – Bell screen-prints herself – was strewn with silk, wool or cotton scarves, ties, cushions. And last but not least, her ready printed sheets of icing and eye-popping, edible cake decorations – Bell’s latest artistic pursuit – were on display (and feature in her book Cressida Bell’s Cake Designs: Fifty Fabulous Cakes.)
December is upon us and the festive season is already in full swing.
Here is A-Gent of Style‘s noteworthy publications for Christmas stocking fillers.
Don’t forget you can hover your cursor over each image to see the rest of the book cover or click on the image to see it in full in a new window.
All books are available or can be ordered from
The Bookshop at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour +44 (0) 20 7351 6854 / @blaisemille
And if you’ve missed the previous instalments of Book End, you can catch up and see the other fantastic books A-Gent of Style selected for you over the months: