New Louis Vuitton store opens in Ramat Aviv mall.
(photo credit: Itay Sikolski)
Behind two large, dark wood doors, the latest Louis Vuitton VIP room in the world is an elegant oasis in the midst of a somewhat hectic mall. Available upon appointment, shoppers can lounge in cream-colored chairs, sip on a complementary beverage, and be given a presentation on merchandise by a salesperson.
While this may sound like something straight out of Paris or Milan, this latest VIP room can be found in the upscale mall in Ramat Aviv, a suburb of Tel Aviv. The only Louis Vuitton store in Israel relocated there in mid-June and is one of only seven of their stores in the world with a VIP room.
At present, the room features the Rare and Exotic Collection, a group of handbags made with variations of animal skin and Louis Vuitton canvas. The collection also features the most expensive bag in the store, the “Bowling” handbag. At NIS 70,000, the Bowling is made of Louis Vuitton canvas, python and crocodile skins.
“We have one of the seven VIP rooms [in the world] because there was such a demand here,” Ayelet Dobkin, a publicist for Louis Vuitton said. “This store is three times bigger than the first Louis Vuitton store built in Israel.”
Louis Vuitton Sales Associate Asaf Mizrahi agreed that it was vital to add the exclusivity to the Ramat Aviv store. One of the core values of Louis Vuitton, he said, is rarity. It’s why they don’t overstock the store, only receiving one or two of each of the bags that they hold in the back.
One example of this is the iconic Speedy bag in blue. Displayed in the “Icon Room,” directly to the left when one enters the store, it’s part of the pre-fall collection designed by Michael Kors. Dipped in sequins, it’s a fresh take on the Speedy, which was created in the ‘30s and was the first handbag sold by Louis Vuitton.
“Louis Vuitton is combining history and legacy, while adjusting to modern life and fashion,” Dobkin said. “It’s combining two worlds.”
Legacy is important to the company, as shown by their prominent display of travel luggage in the very front of the store. When Louis Vuitton first started the company in 1854, the only items he made were square trunks, which differed from the average, round boxes that people traveled with in that time period.
In this way, Dobkin said, he revolutionized travel for his time. The elongated shape meant that people could pack more, and would therefore travel more often.
The Ramat Aviv store features one of the first travel trunks made by Louis Vuitton, a gift from the Paris Museum. Shown with lights and a plaque, it stands next to the modern travel bags that the store offers for sale. Customers are given the option to have their initials on the travel bags just like the initials brightly painted on the antique trunk. Celebrities such as Katie Winslet and Blake Lively are said to have taken part in this historic ritual.
If customers don’t wish to have their initials in big letters on the bag, they can choose to have them hot stamped onto their bag’s tag, free of charge.
“Every product…symbolizes the travel spirit,” Dobkin said. “You can see that even in the Lockit shoes, which are really popular. There’s a small lock that hangs off the zipper.”
Another part of the legacy is that everything in the store is handmade in “artists’ workshops.” The bags come from workshops in France, the leather from France and Spain, and the shoes from Italy.
“Even the holes in the belts are hand painted on the inside so that they match the top color,” Mizrahi said.
This sense of culture is felt not only in the summer and pre-fall collections that the store offers, but also in the store itself. When Greek architect, Panagiotis Chatzinas, designed it, he wanted it to be similar to the other Louis Vuitton stores around the world. But, there is also the addition of Israeli artwork in the store.
Therefore, while giving customers a taste of European culture, the Louis Vuitton store reminds Israelis that they are still at home.