In rather hectic fashion, Shannon and I made our way to New York last Monday for the unique chance to meet and greet the Chief Operating Officer of Louis Vuitton North America, Mr. Daniel Lalonde. When we received the invitation last week whilst being on vacation, there was no real hesitation before realizing that we had to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Shannon and I had high hopes that the event was going to take place in the flagship store on 5th Avenue, in our fantasies we had envisioned Vuitton clearing a whole floor off eager shoppers and letting the event attendees roam the palace freely.
The disappointment was only faint when a kind SA in the store pointed us to the adjacent building down 57th Street, where part of Louis Vuitton N.A.’s corporate headquarters are located. To my pleasant surprise, the showroom was presenting beautiful pieces of LV’s fall collection, some of which I captured on camera.
Overall, I believe a good 25 people circled in and out of the showroom during the two hours that we chatted, networked, analyzed and cooperated. The publishers invited were mainly local New York fashion bloggers, some of which included our good friends Daniel and Rebecca Saynt, Yuli Ziv, Wendy Lam and the ever-so-fabulous Gala Darling. There were more, sadly I had not the chance to meet everyone.
Purpose of the cocktail & hors d’Å“uvre hour with Vuitton’s CEO and the delightful Vuitton staff was to continue the ongoing dialogue between the fashion house and us online fashion publishers and bloggers.
Generally speaking, the big challenge faced by independent fashion bloggers is the hesitant recognition and support by well-established fashion houses. Despite the Internet realm and its fashion bloggers having massive customer outreach, strong influence on buying decisions and readerships that challenge long-time print magazines, the relationship between online publishers and companies like Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci and the likes, is still in its infancy. To continue the relationship analogy, fashion houses and traditional print media enjoy a long-lasting marriage with kids, while online publishers are just out on their first date, clumsy, nervous and dripping ice cream on the date’s shoes.
Shannon and I actually had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and have a chat with Mr. Lalonde when he entered the showroom. To our astonishment, he seemed very receptive to our ideas and genuinely interested in our suggestions, requests and input. Not that we expected otherwise, but it was a very refreshing moment to realize that we were being heard and that we had (hopefully) contributed to paving the way for a closer relationship between publishers and LV. A very cool feeling to converse with a corporate head figure that makes decision on a daily basis that have an effect on millions of people. Humbling, really.
The CEO was not the only corporate figure in attendance that night. It was a sleek gentlemen who I met near the entrance of the showroom, who turned out to be the LV Director Of Advertising Eric Lichtmess. I noticed a yet-so-slight accent in his voice, it turned out that he was indeed from a city near where I grew up in Germany. We engaged in a very interesting discussion on general advertising strategies, Vuitton’s future plans in terms of online presence and devised plans for a possible collaboration. Very nice chap, a delight to talk to.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet everyone in attendance, including the PR managers (thank you Lesley) and other bloggers. Shannon and I had a great time and left the event with a feeling of accomplishment. The travels may have been crazy hectic, but there really is not a price tag on having opportunities, such as this one.
We had the opportunity to capture some of the Fall 2009 collection accessories that were displayed in the showroom. Click each thumbnail for more information on the item!