Take a look inside Louis Vuitton’s first menswear-only store in California, which houses the last collection from the label’s late artistic director Virgil Abloh — and plenty of playful artwork to boot.
On Rodeo Drive, a restless street of high-end fashion retailers, shopping is serious business. Just take a look at the well-coiffed security guards in funereal suits and black sunglasses. Or at tall, wrought-iron gates, sometimes embellished with gold. Or notice the determined regulars with crisp shopping bags strung on their arms like beads on a rosary. But step inside the newly opened Louis Vuitton menswear store, and you’ll find an entirely different atmosphere.
Standing next to Vera Wang’s minimalist façade, Louis Vuitton’s first menswear-only store in the state is a multi-colored, two-story playground for grown-ups. That was, after all, the vision of Virgil Abloh, the label’s late artistic director who toyed with the idea of boyhood through multiple seasons during his tenure. An eight-show arc, to be more precise, in which he explored the world through the joyous lens of a child. Abloh’s latest collection is a meditation on that concept, and the 6500-square-foot store perfectly encapsulates that bright energy.
Once inside, you can’t help but notice the enormous sculpture — dubbed the “Giant Man” — of model Ottawa Kwami in a handstand position. Anchoring the store, the lemon-yellow pièce de résistance stretches to the second floor; stand downstairs, and you’ll get a view of his Louis Vuitton cap, carved with the label’s iconic monogram pattern. Go up the curved staircase, and you’ll come tête-à-tête with his shoes — the laces, the ribbing of his socks — from the second-floor mezzanine.
But there’s so much more to take in visually: By the entrance, three mechanical jellyfish with swirling tentacles, created by artist William Darrell. Stretching horizontally across the right wall, a geometric artwork by Marisa Ferreira, crafted out of stainless steel and mirrors. The three-dimensionality of the pieces lends the illusion of movement, mimicking the colorful, shifting patterns of a kaleidoscope. Mesmerizing! Upstairs: a custom foosball table. Not to be missed.
What’s the vibe like?
Light-hearted, at least compared to the rest of Rodeo Drive. Yes, you’ll find customers shelling out thousands of dollars on new garb, but you’ll also find plenty of folks who are there to browse the space. (And why wouldn’t they?) Bonus: No doting associates with snooty attitudes here.
What about the collection?
It’s fun, but grounded. To shop: ready-to-wear pieces, fragrances, shoes, watches, sunglasses. And of course, there are leather goods — exquisitely crafted belts, messenger bags and wallets. My personal favorites are the bleached tie-dye shorts, made from Japanese denim, and the jacquard overcoat, which features the label’s flower tapestry motif.
Is it worth a visit?
Absolutely! If you’re in the area and are remotely interested in fashion or art, I highly recommend setting aside 20 to 30 minutes to explore the space. As I mentioned, browsing is not only accepted, it’s encouraged. Peruse the “Giant Man” and other works of art dotting Louis Vuitton’s outpost, and I dare you not to stare, with childlike curiosity, at those automaton jellyfish. On the way in and out.