If proof were needed of just how exciting fashion's increasing stake in the high watch and jewellery world is becoming, a trip to Louis Vuitton's new boutique on the Place Vendôme in Paris says it all. The new Peter Marino-designed watch and jewellery destination, which opened during Couture Week this month, was teeming with clients in its first few days, as enthusiastic buyers sat down to view current collection pieces and one-off designs made specifically for the store.
The Place Vendôme has long been the world's premier stop for fine jewellery and watches, with esteemed names such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Chaumet having marked out its octagonal confines for hundreds of years. Paying homage to its neighbours' centuries of accumulated skill, Louis Vuitton has also revived the original artisan workshops at the top of this revamped 17th century townhouse, offering its workers glorious, light-filled views of one of the most historic spaces in Paris.
Passers by, meanwhile, can enjoy the kind of luscious, inventive window displays that mark Louis Vuitton stores out in any city - brightly coloured birds, rich gold detail and plush fabrics providing an intriguing backdrop for the fine jewels and watches that glint in the sunshine among them.
Inside, Marino has taken a certain stiffness out of the fine-jewellery buying experience, adding warmth and sumptuousness with straw marquetry details, light rosewood panelling and walls decked in Havana leather. Says Marino: 'Every piece of jewellery tells a story, so the décor must fade into the background to make way for dialogue.' The Louis Vuitton Place Vendôme boutique - the brand's first stand-alone watch and jewellery store - undoubtedly opens a new chapter in the luxury accessories experience.
Hamdi Chatti, director of the brand's fine watch and jewellery sector, adds: 'Just because Place Vendôme is a traditionally classic place, we didn't feel the need to continue with a very classic way of showing jewellery and watches. Now you come to the same place but you can see things differently.'