Louis Vuitton struts its stuff for the Korean market''Are you going to the Louis Vuitton party tonight?”
On a recent Friday afternoon, the rumor of the impending big night was spreading faster than any ISP connection through the southern part of the capital.
At sundown, the steel mesh facade of the Louis Vuitton flagship store in Cheongdam-dong projected multiple images of the Louis Vuitton logo, changing colors every few seconds.
The main avenue suddenly became congested with black sedans and flashy sports cars pulling up to the store’s cordoned entrance. Paparazzi flocked by the red carpet, flashing cameras as local celebrities struck poses.
Inside, Korean mime artists, their faces painted in white and featuring Louis Vuitton’s brown flower emblem, silently greeted guests and danced around like ballerinas.
Beyond the multi-screens flashing Louis Vuitton product images and the DJ box against the metal-and-orange wall and mirrored disco balls, there was the stage and the dance floor, lit in bright orange beams. The spotlight was soon stolen by a contortionist dressed head-to-toe in a mirror-studded costume and two hip-hop dancers from Argentina.
Deafened by the concoction of dance music and bottles of Moet & Chandon, guests were awed at the store’s overnight transformation.
A few whispered: “What are we celebrating?”
This was “Club LV” a la the ’80s ― celebrating the opening of the Korean Web site of Louis Vuitton.
Since the introduction of the Louis Vuitton Web site in 1997, the French luxury brand has added an international flair to its online connection. The addition of Korean marks the fourth foreign language introduced to the French Web site (English, Japanese and Chinese came first).
“The Korean Web site proves the importance of Korean customers. Through the Korean Web site, we hope to merge both existing and potential customers of Louis Vuitton,” said Cho Hyun-ouk, the chief executive office of the Louis Vuitton Moet Henessy (LVMH) Group Korea.
According to the representative of Louis Vuitton Korea, the launching event had been planned for a year. For the big night, 12 handmade chandeliers in the shape of the Louis Vuitton logo were flown in from Hong Kong, and it took five days to turn the store into a full-fledged nightclub.
More than 700 guests turned up to mingle and mix in the Louis Vuitton version of cyberspace, made up of metal-and-orange-themed multi-screens and projection images.
To everyone’s disappointment, the soiree only lasted until 2:30 a.m., but talk about the party seems to be continuing.
The recent greeting among fashion insiders has been none other than: “So how was the Louis Vuitton party?”
Globetrotting, marketing, and keeping Vuitton’s name out front
To celebrate the opening of Louis Vuitton’s Korean Web site, Nathalie Lemonnier, the company’s customer marketing director, flew in. The JoongAng Daily caught up with Ms. Lemonnier to ask about her job at Louis Vuitton.
How do you manage Louis Vuitton customers around the world?
I handle customer relations, which means I’m talking about millions of those who love Louis Vuitton. In my Paris office, I work with 10 staff and five interns.
The market is largely divided into the vast continent of Europe ― from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean countries ― both North and South Americas, and Asian countries ― from China to Southeast Asian countries. Japan is counted as one big market because Louis Vuitton is so big there.
I constantly travel around the world to oversee these markets. I was in Hong Kong yesterday, and after tonight, I’m headed for Hong Kong again and then back to Paris. I travel on average once a month around the world.
Is it hard to do that as a woman?
I think I can do this because I’m not married, although I’ve been with an artist boyfriend for more than 10 years. In fact, the majority of the Louis Vuitton staff is women, and our customers are mostly women!
How did you start your job at Louis Vuitton?
I was a sociology major but got into marketing after school. I worked at a French television station called M6 for seven years to promote TV shopping. I handled various merchandise including cosmetics, clothes, jewelry and bags and so on.
When I joined Louis Vuitton four years ago, I thought Louis Vuitton was an old company, but it’s far from that. The company had worked closely with young designers, such as Marc Jacobs, to develop trendy, cute items. I fell in love with Louis Vuitton, and 70 percent of my shoes are Louis Vuitton. Don’t you love my little Murakami pouchette?
How much are you involved with Vuitton.com in Korea?
I’m not an IT person, but a marketing and creative director who overlooks the general concept of the project in the world. On my team, there are two staff members dedicated to Web site development. In Korea, there is a French-speaking Korean webmaster. So far, www.vuitton.com has been available in English, French, Japanese and Chinese, and I realized that Korea was becoming more important in the market.
The Korean Web site is to improve customer relations, and Korea is the most wired country in the world. Korean customers want to see trendy items and they would like to be informed about the newest collection, detailed information about new products.
As with the concept of Louis Vuitton Korea, there is the uniform concept, but we also make sure to understand what works in the specific country by working with local planners to incorporate “local color” into the design of Louis Vuitton stores.
by Ines Cho