Louis Vuitton doesn't do things on a small scale. And Tuesday night's opening of its Maison store on New Bond Street in London was a truly epic affair: Entire streets were shut down so the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Kirsten Dunst, and Anjelica Huston could pile into the gilded retail mecca. "They were dealing with a pre-recession budget," Peter Marino, who designed the space, explained. "As if it wasn't obvious!"
The French brand's monograms have been on this side of the English Channel for more than a century. In fact, when the label's first U.K. outpost opened, Queen Victoria was still on the throne. "London is a fabulous city because it's where so many things smash together: art, fashion, street culture, clubs," said Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs. "You can only find that in two cities: New York and here."
But back to the nineteenth century: Following cocktails, 300 friends of the brand ventured over to a warehouse on New Oxford Street for what stylist and editor Katie Grand described as a Victorian banquet. Bacchanal is more like it. Five separate doors opened onto dark, winding paths, each leading to a different experience: One was a gentlemen's club room chock-full of taxidermy; another, a loading dock with modern dancers performing on trunks; and then there was the carriage car full of Vuitton bags, with two ballerinas performing a choreographed lovers' routine. The big hit, though, was the smoky expanse that had been transformed into a pine forest—yes, a real pine forest, complete with tents of palm readers.
After a seated dinner, Donna Summer took the stage to perform "On the Radio" with—wait for it—Jacobs singing backup. "My God, what have I gotten myself into?" the designer asked. Then it was back into the twisting halls. "This is amazing," Pixie Geldof shouted to Alice Dellal. "No really, it's A. Maze. Ing! Get it?"