Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scarlett's Got a Brand New Bag; with a New London Store and a Clutch of Hot Actresses in Its Advertising Campaign, Louis Vuitton Is Suddenly the Only Luxury Label That Matters

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scarlett's Got a Brand New Bag; with a New London Store and a Clutch of Hot Actresses in Its Advertising Campaign, Louis Vuitton Is Suddenly the Only Luxury Label That Matters

Article excerpt

Byline: LAURA CRAIK

YOU could be in a menagerie, not a clothing store, for all the cooing that is going on.

" Oooh! Those shooos!"

swoons one magazine editor, pointing at a pair of velvet monogram ballet-pumps. Another gazes up at a mint-green patent-leather shopper, while her assistant fingers the purse. We are at the opening of Louis Vuitton's new Sloane Street store, the first in the world to carry clothing, accessories and the new jewellery line.

Understandably, the fashion birds are going cuckoo.

Louis Vuitton doesn't do sales. It doesn't need to. While the rest of London's luxury goods stores are drowning in a sea of discounts, Louis Vuitton's prices remain as expensive as they always are, 365 days a year. Not the best news for its less affluent fans, but a strategy which has made Louis Vuitton the most profitable luxury brand on the planet, trouncing its nearest rivals Prada, Gucci and Hermes with $3.8 billion in annual sales.

Recession? What recession? Ever since Marc Jacobs was installed as artistic director in 1997, the once-fusty luggage label has been transformed. Jacobs, the scruffy New York designer who invented grunge, might not have been the obvious choice to spearhead Vuitton's revolution, but his philosophy of peddling downtown chic to uptown girls has proved a goldmine.

A clever strategist as well as a brilliant designer (it was he who mooted, three years ago, a jewellery line), Jacobs is Vuitton's trump card. The global success of handbags such as the Speedy, the Murakami and the Sac de Nuit ensure that the company is celebrating its 150th anniversary in finer fettle than it could ever have imagined.

"Why do women love handbags so much? Because they don't have pockets!"

says Yves Carcelle, the company's chairman of 14 years. He laughs a lot - but then, he can afford to.

"You carry your emotions in your bag.

Outside, you express your personality but inside, it's your life. It's a funny thing, how a little product like a bag can tell so much about you."

Despite the eye-watering prices, the most spectacular Vuitton bags enjoy long waiting lists. …

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