A Taste Of Parisian Heritage Through An Exclusive And Intimate Tour Of The City Of Lights
Metro Society EIC Raul Manzano gets the VIP treatment in Paris with a carefully curated luxury experience with Louis Vuitton
It is everyone’s dream to walk along the streets of Paris, experience fine dining across the city, and be left in awe by the majestic Eiffel Tower and other historical buildings. This beautiful city, which is known as one of the capitals of fashion, is a witness to the establishment of a high-fashion brand that is best known for its timeless and classic designer bags.
Being treated as a VIP is one thing, but being treated as a VIP of Louis Vuitton is another. It was the first time that Louis Vuitton Philippines chose, among the other editors in the Philippines, those who would experience all things Louis Vuitton in Europe with their VIP clients, Kevin and Shirley Wong. This exhilarating journey is close to my heart, and I am honored to have had the chance to share my one-week trip that is nothing short of amazing and elegant.
Taking my seat in business class is the first of the many experiences I had as Louis Vuitton’s VIP client. As soon as I got off the plane, I could not help but feel ecstatic, as I knew I was on my way to take a seat in the front row for the Spring/Summer 2020 men’s fashion show by Virgil Abloh. The show was held in the tree-lined streets of Place Dauphine.
Tucked away on the western tip of the Île de la Cité, Place Dauphine combines all the beauty and romance of Paris into one beautifully historic square. This leafy gem in the heart of the City of Lights is lined with quintessentially Parisian buildings, art galleries, and cafés, not to mention lovely little cobblestone streets.
As someone who is really into fashion, I was even more pumped to get a closer look, the next day, at the clothes featured during the fashion show. VIP clients have the liberty of buying clothes that are yet to be released! Could it get even more exclusive than that?
Allowing us to shoot our cover girl inside the Louis Vuitton ancestral home in Asnières was another perk that came with being their VIP client. The House hosted an intimate lunch for us at Asnières. We were given a personal tour of the Asnières workshop, which is the heart of the House, and brings a soul to the journey through its special orders. The exceptional craftsmanship of the craftsmen of Asnières means that the emblematic pieces are still produced today: Trunks, models in rare and exotic leathers, or special orders. These unique creations aim for perfection by combining technical innovation with the quintessence of style.
We were given an exclusive tour of the exhibit, “Time Capsule,”in the heart of The Gallery in Asnières; it shows a journey that traces the history of the House by highlighting innovations in technology and design, from its beginnings in 1854 to the present day. Visitors will have the chance to discover rare and emblematic objects from the Louis Vuitton archives.
Just when I thought I felt closer to this top-of-the-line label—having the chance to shoot in a place that is not open to everyone—I was drawn closer as I took a step inside the flagship store of Louis Vuitton on Place Vendome, Paris. This exceptional place is the scene of the such unforgettable moments (imagine Sophie Turner twist and turn while trying on her wedding gown inside the VIP room). We were also given permission to shoot here.
The day did not end there. We were then taken to the Fondation Louis Vuitton on the Bois de Boulogne. From an initial sketch drawn on a blank page in a notebook, to the transparent cloud sitting at the edge of the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry constantly sought to “design, in Paris, a magnificent vessel symbolizing the cultural calling of France.”
We were taken on an exclusive tour of the museum’s collection, believed to be a combination of works owned by LVMH and Bernard Arnault, that include works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gilbert & George, and Jeff Koons. For site-specific installations, the foundation commissioned works by Ellsworth Kelly, Olafur Eliasson, Janet Cardiff, and George Bures Miller (starring Scott Tixier and Tony Tixier), Sarah Morris, Taryn Simon, Cerith Wyn Evans, and Adrián Villar Rojas. We were also given permission to shoot around the Fondation.
As Louis Vuitton took high jewelry to Prague, so did we. Launched in 2018, Conquêtes-Regalia highlighted precious tokens symbolizing the Louis Vuitton woman’s greater destiny. This year, the first collection of Francesca Amfitheatrof signs a creative renewal for the Maison: Riders of the Knights leads us into lands of legends and audacity. The House previewed the latest high jewelry collection at Troja Chateau in Prague for its VIP clients. The chateau is considered one of the most important architectural works at the beginning of the late baroque in Central Europe.
The VIP treatment (which included transport from the airport to our five-star hotel, and the privilege to experience something only open to the chosen few), shows how Louis Vuitton surely serves “magnificence” on a platter: Through producing high-fashion items and a grand tour that shows the foundations of the luxury label that we all know today. It was neat to experience this service up close, as it reflects the trend toward blending hospitality and luxury goods in a well-rounded experience. This is a response to ever fiercer market competition, where, outside personal taste and preferences, differentiation and loyalty are built through the experience of shopping.
Photographs by Chuck Reyes, Thomas Cesalek, and Raul Manzano. This article was originally published in Metro Society (Vol. 16, No. 6).