New York-based starchitect Peter Marino snapped the proverbial whip when reimaging The Dubai Mall Louis Vuitton store, reopening on October 1. “Happiness and light,” are the recurring design signatures that Marino has translated to the large space. The store, which first opened in 2009 and is located in Fashion Avenue, has been transformed with two levels combined into one new location. It has been completely reimagined through a relationship between the high fashion house and the architect that the latter deems “creative, trustworthy, and fulfilling.”
“We developed a new facade for the store made of custom glass bricks,” starts Marino. “Inside, over two floors, there is a play on smooth and heavily textured stone. We have soaring ceiling heights up to five meters,” he describes. “Looking up, you see intricate and playful details: sculptural lighting installations and stenciling in Louis Vuitton’s traditional patterns. Unique details are everywhere, from custom braided leather inside the elevator cab to artist-designed wallpaper in the changing rooms.”
After exploring the women’s leather goods, continue on to the heart of the store, which reveals a room that sparkles with fine jewelry, watches, and limited edition pieces like the Idylle Blossom Sun bracelet in pink gold alongside exotic leather goods. Look for the Capucines mini gris Mordoré, the Twist Mini, and Capucines BB in Rose Mordoré, all crafted with crocodilian leather. As the eye travels up, bell lamps in the form of a chandelier from the Objets Nomades collection illuminate the space filled with art. On display are Polly Apfelbaum’s Love Park and a colorful abstract piece by Josh Sperling stretching seven meters in length, along with another special commission, a site-specific video artwork by Refik Anadol.
Also on the first floor can be found the regionally dedicated fragrances like Ombre Nomade and Les Sables Roses along with the latest release, Heures d’Absence, amid a multitude of scents and candles. Nearby, over three rooms, is a separate men’s area with large leather goods, shoes, and ready-to-wear in the company of more art, such as the Projection of the Sphere by Niko Luoma, and Objets Nomades furniture like the Campana Cocoons and the Marcel Wanders lounge chair. Next, enter the Travel room with its illuminated five-meter high ceilings and take your pick of trunks, suitcases, keepalls, golf sets, and accessories for any journey. The Taigarama trunks in Monogram Antarctica, the Malle coiffeuse, and the sneaker box will all be revealed for the first time in the region.
A quick ride in the elevator cab to the second floor reveals a gallery decorated with spiral lamps by Atelier Oï, leading to a Salon Privé hosting two shopping suites for dedicated private client appointments. These are conducted in the presence of artworks by Vik Muniz, Peter Dayton, Zhang He, and Gregor Hildebrandt.
The Louis Vuitton Dubai Mall store rehaul lasted several months. However, such work is decades in the making for Marino, who cut his teeth when Andy Warhol invited him to renovate his Manhattan townhouse and, later, his Factory. A string of commissions for European aristocracy would follow, along with major commercial endeavors like Barneys department stores and boutiques for Armani, Fendi, Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, propelling the notion that a brand’s architectural design is the ultimate window to a maison’s identity.
While Marino’s outward appearance – he is often clad head-to-toe in black leather motorcycle gear – may be perceived as strong or even tough, he admits to encountering his own vulnerability in the tick-tick of time, and that he can be “stressed over deadlines.” None of this shows, however, in the store where clients will only desire for moments to stand still. The art-filled space is testament to the contemporary audacity of Louis Vuitton, whose commitment to fine craftsmanship in high fashion and accessories permeates every aspect of art de vivre.