Beyond The Bag: Experiential Offerings Are The Future Of Luxury Fashion
From beach clubs to cafes and restaurants, luxury fashion houses are extending their offerings far beyond the retail sphere.
Although many luxury fashion houses are responding to the rise of Web 3.0 by jumping headfirst into the metaverse through immersive commerce experiences, they’re also doubling down on hyperphysical offerings. Last year, Balenciaga enticed customers back into stores by decking its Mayfair, London store in pink faux fur to promote its Le Cagole bag while Jacquemus opted to sell its Le Splash collection in a monochromatic blue surrealist bathroom-inspired pop up. For both brands, the activations focused more on cultivating a memorable experience and increasing in-person and online engagement than promoting a product.
Now, as consumer spending moves away from the mere accumulation of physical possessions and towards dining, hospitality, and wellness, luxury fashion houses continue to invest in multi-sensory experiences. Where marques—including Lamborghini, Aston Martin, and Bugatti—are diving deeper into branded residences that cater to high-net-worth clientele, fashion houses are turning to branded hospitality spaces and ephemeral activations. Rather than a heavily branded (read: all-over monogrammed) approach, the experiences here are often more subtle, speaking to the nuances and heritage of each house as opposed to feeling like one has stepped into a campaign.
From restaurants and cafés to beach clubs, these are the best luxury fashion pop-ups and branded offerings around the world right now.
Dioriviera Pop-up & Café, One&Only, Desaru Coast
Dior is no stranger to the world of branded hospitality, with the maison owning cafés and restaurants in Saint-Tropez, Tokyo, Seoul, and Miami, as well as the opening of La Pâtisserie in its redesigned 30 Avenue Montaigne flagship in Paris. From June to August 2023, One&Only Desaru Coast, the ultra-luxury resort in Malaysia, is imbued with a touch of Parisian glamour thanks to the Dioriviera pop-up. The Instagram-ready activation sees Dior signatures emblazoned across the Ember Beach Club, with the location dressed in dusk pink; from the sun lounged and umbrellas to the fixtures in the adjoining café. An oversized Dior logo holds court in the pool, while the Dior Café features a Mediterranean-inspired menu that sees Malaysia’s fresh local produce interpreted with a French twist.
Louis Vuitton Restaurant, White 1921 Hotel, St Tropez
Located in the White 1921 Hotel, Louis Vuitton’s St Tropez restaurant first opened last year. Taking a seasonal approach, the restaurant is now helmed by Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Donckele and renowned pastry chef Maxime Frédéric. Taking a semi-gastronomic approach, the afternoon menu comprises the sweet creations of Frédéric before a dinner service by Donckele, with both placing an emphasis on seasonal ingredients from local producers. Highlights include the soft brioche with orange blossom (glazed with the LV motif, of course) and numerous seafood delights, all enjoyed amongst blue-and-white décor that speaks to the world of Louis Vuitton.
Prada Caffè, Harrods, London
Opened earlier this year and operating until the end of 2023, the Prada Caffè pop-up in the Harrods store in Knightsbridge, London serves up pastries in a colour-drenched mint-green space. Laden with aesthetic nods to the Milanese fashion house, the Prada Caffè sees black-and-white checkerboard floors complement the mint-green interiors and silverware adorned with the Prada triangle motif. As for the culinary offerings? The café is open all day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, small bites, and aperitivo. However, the highlight is the pastries; with the pistachio cake with pistachio croccantino and cream, chocolate cake with raspberry jelly, and Sacher torte proving popular.
Café Leon Dore, Aimé Leon Dore, New York
Inspired by Greek coffee and pastry culture, Café Leon Dore represents an extension of the Aimé Leon Dore brand. Located in the label’s New York flagship, the café serves coffee, tea, and pastries, with the outdoor seating serving as the perfect site for people-watching.
Valentino Escape, Amalfi Coast
Designed to promote the collection of the same name, the annual Valentino Escape activation never fails to impress. Currently taking place over the European summer at the Palazzo Avino in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, guests are able to explore the collection in a luxurious pop-up. A short shuttlebus away, a Valentino-branded Clubhouse awaits, outfitted with rose red lounges, umbrellas, and accessories, all emblazoned with the Valentino ‘V’.
Jacquemus Beach Club, St Tropez
Simon Porte Jacquemus is a master at nailing the multi-sensory brand experience. Case in point? The newly unveiled Jacquemus Beach Club. Located at Plage de la Bonne Terrass in Ramatuelle, St Tropez, the activation runs until October and sees the little-known beach lined with lemon-toned sun loungers and parasols. The beach club is accompanied by a pop-up boutique housing European summer essentials from the new Été capsule collection — think exclusive straw hats and gold earrings as well as fresh takes on the Chiquito and Le Bisou bags.
Gucci Royal Suite, The Savoy, London
Occupying the entire fifth floor of London institution The Savoy, the Gucci Royal Suite represents a shared history, with the house’s founder Guccio Gucci working at the hotel as a luggage porter and lift boy. Spanning almost 280 square metres, the Gucci Royal Suite sees a lavish colour palette of peacock blue, burgundy, and gold complemented by patterned wallpaper, and velvet and jacquard upholstery. The ‘more is more’ sartorial approach employed by the Italian fashion house effortlessly translates to the interior design realm, resulting in an intimate setting despite its expansive size. And, should you manage to peel your eyes away from the multivarious objets d’art, antique furnishings, and fine art, the suite also boasts a spectacular view of the Thames.
From approx. $30,000/night; thesavoylondon.com
Emporio Armani Ristorante & Caffè, Milan
Giorgio Armani is no stranger to branded hospitality, with the Emporio Armani Ristorante & Caffè having been around since 2000. The space underwent a renovation in 2019, updating the interior architecture to showcase the history of the heritage building it sits within while suffusing it with a contemporary feel. Equal parts warm and refined, the lively setting serves Mediterranean cuisine (preferred by the founder himself) alongside a full Italian menu. Open for lunch and dinner, culinary highlights include the saffron risotto, spaghetti with tomatoes, and homemade Scialatielli pasta with squid.
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