Could Louis Vuitton be plotting another super-mega flagship — this time in Beverly Hills?
According to sources, Vuitton is proposing to develop a prime site on Rodeo Drive owned by parent LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton that had previously been earmarked for a 109-room Cheval Blanc luxury hotel.
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It is understood Vuitton has already commissioned architectural concepts for the vast site, spread across Rodeo Drive, Little Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Drive and offering more than 50,000 square feet of real estate on which to build.
But winning approval from residents, the planning commission and Beverly Hills City Council for the Vuitton flagship is said to be still in progress, and would be key: Last May, LVMH conceded defeat in its quest to build a Cheval Blanc after a special election ended with a slim majority of nearby homeowners opposing the project.
Vuitton, now led by chairman and chief executive Pietro Beccari, seems to be intent on building increasingly bigger and more spectacular retail attractions.
Hoarding in the form of a mammoth silver metal trunk on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris now shelters a gargantuan Art Nouveau-style building earmarked for “a new project for the maison,” a stone’s throw from the current Vuitton flagship.
Vuitton’s women’s artistic director Nicholas Ghesquière has said it would be a hybrid space including a store, a cultural venue and a hotel, to be designed by architect Peter Marino.
A construction permit registered with the city of Paris mentions retail, hotel accommodation and the construction of a basement level and interior courtyard.
Beccari, who joined Vuitton one year ago from Dior, masterminded the Dior 30 Montaigne super-mega flagship that incorporates a museum, a restaurant, pastry café, leafy courtyards, and a hotel suite that offers a special few the run of the store all night long.
The executive has a reputation for bold gestures and audacious events, frequently telling his teams, “Don’t think big — think huge!”
Vuitton already operates a growing fleet of restaurants, cafés and chocolate shops as it grows its “lifestyle” activities beyond its core businesses of fashion, leather goods, fine jewelry, watches and fragrances.
LVMH is known for playing the long game in luxury and had spent three years presenting architectural plans, studies and analyses to make sure the first Cheval Blanc hotel in the U.S. was right for Beverly Hills.
It was initially approved by the Beverly Hills City Council, which touted that the new development would generate for the city some $778 million in unrestricted funding over the next 30 years, $26 million in non-earmarked funds and $2 million to support local art and culture.
Then an opposition, led by Unite Here Local 11, and locals against the project gathered enough signatures to prompt a special election that scuttled the hotel.
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