Louis Vuitton's Little Star: Roma Etoile

It's finally opened! After what seemed like years, Spazio Etoile has been completely overhauled and is now Louis Vuitton's 14th maison (and first in Italy)- Roma Etoile.  A little hint:  this is a big deal.  Though a capital city, Rome is not the forefront of fashion nor the definition of cosmopolitan.  However Rome is slowly marching through the 21st century and an LV maison is just one confirmation that Rome is no longer simply a beautiful antiquity.

Billed as a concept store, Roma Etoile is by no doubt a Louis Vuitton boutique-- three levels of the famous trunks and fashion.  The design is beautiful-- architect Peter Marino renovated the former Cinema Corso (Marcello Piacentini) into an artistic open layout whose perogative is to see and be seen. 

*For a panoramic peak into the new boutique, take a look at the very second Dotspot I made, a 360 degree video via iPhone, thanks to Kogeto.

Marino showed off every detail from wall mounts to belt holders, but I was more impressed with his choice of contemporary art.  The front entrance is an installation by Czech artist Jiri George Dokoupil.  Dokoupil took hundreds of film stills and created a colorful and curved mosaic canvas.  He also chose a Michelangelo-inspired Vik Muniz c-print subtly hanging in women's wear.

If in Rome for the next few days, a Vuitton visit is worth the walk to Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina.  Along with the permanent collection, high fashion and the ever changing window displays, there is a clever temporary exhibition (through February 5) of the famous trunks and valises related to the silver screen including my very favorite The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007).

Cultural Kudos: From the conception of Roma Etoile, Louis Vuitton is collaborating Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Marino integrated a curved projection screen and viewing area which will show classic and contemporary Italian films, whereas the LV-CSC will focus on student laboratories, projects and film awards.[youtube]

Fashionista Flag: As expected, the opening of the Louis Vuitton Roma Etoile brought out celebrities-- from bloggers to silver screen icons like Cate Blanchett and Catherine Deneuve (swoon!).  Before and after the inauguration party, Rome was literally crawling with fashion bloggers such as UK favorite The Clothes Whisperer, in fact I bumped into Chiara Ferragni (Italy's uber-popular fashion blogger and law student) on the steps at Piazza di Spagna Friday afternoon while walking a very tantrum-inspired X home from school.

UPDATE: My review of Louis Vuitton Roma Etoile appears on February 20, 2012 in the New York Times InTransit Blog: Vuitton adds Culture to Couture in Rome.