Extreme makeover

Sneak peek: Louis Vuitton bets on Houston with expanded store and full range of luxury collection

Sneak peek: Louis Vuitton bets on Houston with expanded store and full range of luxury collection

Santa has arrived early for Louis Vuitton shoppers in Houston.

The luxury retailer has revamped the Galleria store, doubling the size so that it now extends all the way to the Westheimer entrance, adding a VIP salon and offering the full range of Vuitton products, including classic luggage, men's suits and a wide array of handbags, shoes, watches and womenswear designed by Marc Jacobs.

 "Everything Louis Vuitton has to offer is in Houston," said David Goubert, senior vice president of stores during an exclusive tour Friday. 

"Everything Louis Vuitton has to offer is in Houston," said David Goubert, senior vice president of stores during an exclusive tour Friday.

The newly remodeled store opens to the public on Saturday at 10 a.m. During the renovation, temporary Louis Vuitton women and men's stores were set up in other areas of the Galleria.

Those who have shopped the Galleria store before will notice a difference as soon as they approach it. The exterior, with its traditional boxy storefront windows, has been replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow shoppers to see into the store, creating an open feeling.

Noted architect Peter Marino has opened up the interior, too, with rooms leading into each other like stackable dolls. "You go from one room to another and discover another world wherever you are," Goubert said.

Upon entering the store, a "luggage wall" filled with trunks, suitcases and travel accessories, greets shoppers. The only one its kind in the United States, it was inspired by the Louis Vuitton Marina Bay, Singapore store.

"It's part of our heritage, so it's important for clients to have the opportunity to experience that when they walk into the store," Goubert said.

Half and half

The store is roughly divided in half, with menswear on the right and womenswear on the left. The menswear part of the store, with burnished teak walls, leather stools and pattered floors, flows from shoes and accessories into ready-to-wear, with a complete line of the Louis Vuitton fall collection and pre-spring/summer 2013 collection of bright orange-and-navy checked clothing designed by LV menswear designer Kim Jones.

The women's side, accented with parchment wall paneling, has an expanded selection of handbags, including a replica of the classic Alma handbag from the 1940s, and leather goods. The watch and accessories section, which is adorned with a paper origami ceiling reminiscent of the design in the famous Louis Vuitton Omotesando store in Tokyo, is also much larger.

The Houston store is the first in the nation to launch the Louis Vuitton 2013 cruise collection in the expanded ready-to-wear department, and it goes without saying that the shoe department, adorned with green sofas, lush carpeting and mirrors, is a focal point.

The makeover is so extensive and expensive (officials won't say how much), that it's like a new Louis Vuitton store has opened in Houston. But Goubert says the luxury retailer has made a wise investment.

"Houston is becoming one of the prime luxury destinations in North America," he said. "That's part of why we made the decision to have such a store in this space."

Louis Vuitton, The Galleria, November 2012
The revamped Louis Vuitton store in the Galleria has an open, more inviting feeling. Photo by Joel Luks
Louis Vuitton, Galleria store
The watch and accessories section is adorned with a paper origami ceiling reminiscent of the design in the Omotesando store in Tokyo. Courtesy of Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton, The Galleria, November 2012
Architect Peter Marino used "spicy" colors to create a warm enviroment. Photo by Joel Luks
Louis Vuitton, The Galleria, November 2012
Louis Vuitton, Galleria store
Louis Vuitton, The Galleria, November 2012