By KUPLUTHAI PUNGKANON
FOR ALMOST 20 years, French luxury brand Louis Vuitton has been sharing its perspective of the world through its City Guides. Now the City of Angels has been added to the list of great cities with the recent launch of the Louis Vuitton Bangkok City Guide in a vibrant shade of blue as a tribute to Her Majesty the Queen.
The Bangkok City Guide is the 25th pocket book and joins Chicago, Prague and Rome as additions to the collection. This year too sees the debut of a mobile app for the iPhone and iPad to complement the entire collection of City Guides.
Since 1998, Louis Vuitton has been using the city guides to offer a selection of addresses that include not just the best possible travel experience but also quirky local surprises.
“The concept of Louis Vuitton City Guides goes back to the brand’s DNA, which is the spirit of travel,” Christopher Kilaniotis, president of Louis Vuitton South Asia told XP during the launch at the brand’s Emporium store last week.
“Our founder, Louis Vuitton, was just 13 years old when he left his small village in the central Jura region and walked to Paris. It took him two years and he stopped at many villages on the way, learning something knew with every stay. We introduced the City Guide in homage to that voyage of discovery. It represents the very heritage of our brand,” he explains.
Readers will not only discover the essence of Bangkok and its finest addresses – hotels, restaurants, gourmet treats, bars, cafes, tea rooms, fashion houses, spas, antique dealers, designers, museums and galleries – but also literature, films and music.
“The Louis Vuitton City Guide is distinct from others in that it is more refined,” Kilaniotis says. “We look for both luxury and local element – something that everybody can visit and places that you don’t usually find. Having a local guest editor and contributor is vital as it makes it possible to include hidden gems with a story behind them. Bangkok is a happening place and while it is changing fast and is already a global metropolis, it has managed to retain its character. It’s not just the food, the culture and the people; there are many things that make Bangkok amazing.”
Although shocked and dismayed at the August 17 bombing at the Erawan shrine, which also caused damage to |one of Louis Vuitton’s boutiques, Kilaniotis says he doesn’t feel |the incident will keep visitors away.“
“The bombing was unfortunate and tragic. But we need to look also at the positive side of life here. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t visit Bangkok. In fact I was here just a few days after the bombing and visited the Erawan shrine to pay my respects and pray for peace. Thai people are very resilient and they know how to bounce back. At Louis Vuitton, we believe that Bangkok is one of the world’s most amazing cities and an exciting place to visit.
For the Bangkok City Guide, Louis Vuitton invited designer ML Poomchai Chumbala to take the reader on a personal exploration of the city, sharing tips along the way on his favourite spots. At various points throughout the guide and at the end of each chapter, he opens his personal address book and divulges several preferred secret haunts.
Poomchai says he regards Bangkok as a multifaceted vibrant city, which continues to grow both in size and quality yet retains its originality and traditional charm.
“I am particularly proud of the new trends in Bangkok that mix tradition with contemporary elements whether in food, fashion or architecture. We are increasingly restoring old houses and buildings and turning them into boutique hotels or hip restaurants. The literature section is also very interesting as it lists authors with very different perspectives of the city,” |he says.
Kilaniotis says that Louis Vuitton would like to bring another big project to Bangkok, but refuses with a smile to explain further, merely adding that it will be announced next year.
He does however take a moment to promote the brand’s “Series 3” touring exhibition, which opens in Singapore on November 27.
“It’s a new way to look at fashion and craftsmanship. The exhibition showcases the artistic and creative innovation behind the fashion show and focuses on the ideas and inspirations of Nicolas Chesquiere, our creative director. It’s also very interactive with a work station that’s actually a screen on which you place your hands and make your own handbag,” he says.