Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Taipei 101 Fashions

While it was pouring outside last Sunday, our Eslite fashion course group went touring on the 3rd floor of Taipei 101, where most luxury stores are concentrated, as opposed to the more mass-retail chains on the lower levels.
Our tour started of course at the Louis Vuitton. As usual on weekends, we had to line up at the door before the attendants even let us in. The most famous element of the store is the so-called bar, a line of bar stools where the customers can browse through the catalogues or take a look at the products. All around the shop, a variety of Louis Vuitton items are exhibited, some of them high up, the smaller ones in glass compartments inside tables. What first struck me, is how little cherries are on display. Despite its success and appeal, Takashi Murakami's Monogramme Cerise series is almost completely absent from the shop.
A marked contrast was formed by the Gucci store. As soon as you enter, you have a whole wall on your left absolutely filled with products with the Double G logo. And that's not all. The other products on show, even the ties, play the logo card to the max: Double G, Single G, different stylings, but it's all the logo that counts. The new collection known as La Pelle Guccissima has a place of its own.
Our tour also took us to Dior, with its windows made to look like mirrors at a theater's dressing rooms. The Prada store has a clean light green look, and the typical black items with the upside down triangle. Some of the newest items have a different logo, still the name Prada, but inside a more classical-looking frame. On show was also a black dress with knitted bits and pieces stuck on top. From Prada we walked over to related brand Miu Miu, with its fireworks of reds and other flashy designs. Celine was the anti-example we visited, a modest store, conservative, with a new but rather vague logo looking like a medieval shield. Some of the handbags looked like Louis Vuittons from a distance, relieved of their logos.
The tour focused more on store design and environment than on the latest lines, but was still an interesting look at one of the top locations in Taiwan's fashion world.
During our tour, I also noticed that Coach are planning to open a store inside Taipei 101. Other new shops to join the Taipei scene probably next month: a Gucci at the Breeze Center, the renovated Louis Vuitton flagship store on the north side of the Grand Formosa Regent Hotel, and the Gioia Pan boutique on its south side.
Tomorrow I'll buy a rare new Taiwanese book about fashions and brands, "The Branding Curse" by Lynn H. Shih, who made her name organizing exclusive parties for Louis Vuitton Taiwan, where she still works. At more than 400 pages and only in Chinese, it'll take some time for me to work my way through it, so don't expect a thorough review too soon. I'll give you a quick overview of the book in the next few days, though.

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