Living the Dream

Before we lunched at the LVMH-owned Le Cheval Blanc we investigated what was going on at another LVMH building opposite.

Over its 160-year history, the Louis Vuitton monogram has adorned everything from dumbbells and bikes, to coffee cups and popcorn boxes. But it’s only in recent years that the iconic logo has crossed over into the food world, emblazoning cakes, pastries and restaurant façades at LV-branded food outposts in Osaka, Tokyo, Chengdu, China – and now, for the first time, Paris.

Louis Vuitton lance ses chocolats pour la Saint-Valentin

Opened in December 2022 in the centre of the city, adjacent to LV’s global headquarters and across from the La Samaritaine department store, the Maxime Frédéric at Louis Vuitton café – named after its head pastry chef – was developed as part of the “LV Dream” experience, a free exhibit that traces the brand’s history.

It’s a cleverly designed finale that bookends an experience meant to endear visitors to the house of LV. Visitors learn about the brand’s modest beginnings, when a scrappy teenager named Louis Vuitton left his village in eastern France and arrived on foot in Paris at the age of 16, and the evolution of the brand’s heritage creating trunks for Paris’ 19th century traveling elite, and its growth into a luxury fashion empire.

Louis Vuitton x Maxime Fréderic : Paris et la chocolaterie

LV Dream is the latest all-in-one retail, cultural and gastronomic space designed to foster brand loyalty with exhibits that explore the companies’ heritage and legacy, as well as celebrity chef-signed gourmet treats aimed at enticing visitors to stay as long as possible, and spend more money.

Back at LV Dream, it’s a Saturday morning in January, and a steady stream of visitors who have just finished the exhibit follow one another and take the stairs to the second floor café and gift shop, very few opt to turn to their right, towards the venue exit.

Louis Vuitton and Pastry Chef of Cheval Blanc Paris Maxime Frédéric present LV DREAM, a new cultural and culinary destination in Paris - LVMH

The theme repeats itself on a long marble display table, where the LV iconography—flower blossom, four point star, Damier Ebène checkerboard motif—is deconstructed into chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut entremets and lemon meringue cakes with exacting detail, each one presented under protective glass cloche domes.

Pastry chef Maxime Frédéric at Louis Vuitton, Paris

Frédéric is also the executive pastry chef at the Cheval Blanc hotel across the street (LVMH’s first luxury hotel in Paris), made his first priority to meet the people behind the brand by visiting the company’s studio and former family residence in Asnières northwest of the city. He met with the artisans and craftspeople where the trunks are made by hand. Consequently, he saw a lot of similarities between his work in patisseries and the work of the artisans there, whether it’s a woodworker or a locksmith for the trunks. It’s about handcrafted workmanship, and that’s completely in line with the work of artisan pastry chefs, bakers and chocolatiers.

Louis Vuitton Chocolate Bag – Mon Paris Patisserie

At the café, attention to detail extends not only to the replica cakes and the chocolate bonbons and bars at the chocolate boutique next to the café, but also to the marble display table which, upon closer inspection, has also been carved out with the LV symbols.

The decor is decidedly sober by LV’s luxury standards, with dozens of tropical plants bringing life to the concrete floors and exposed ductwork in the former department store, La Belle Jardinière (despite its name which translates to ‘beautiful planter’ the store sold pret-a-porter fashion).

Frédéric together with his older sister, are fifth-generation farmers who’ve taken over the family spread in Normandy where he spends his weekends “recharging” by collecting the freshly laid eggs and cracking the hazelnuts, both of which are used to make the café’s cakes and pastries. The farm also makes the hazelnut spread sold at the chocolate boutique, on-site. It’s perhaps for this intimate personal connection that Frédéric’s name is given equal honors alongside Louis Vuitton in the café name.

Along with his own farm, Frédéric partnered with family-owned or heritage suppliers throughout France. For example, coffee is sourced by Cafe Verlet, one of the oldest coffee roasters and coffeehouses in Paris, which opened in 1880 just a few decades after Vuitton opened his first shop in Paris. Milk, butter and cream come from his friends who run a dairy farm in Normandy, and pears for the pear charlottes from a small producer in the Midi-Pyrénées.

Louis Vuitton x Maxime Fréderic : Paris et la chocolaterie

The exception is the chocolate, which is sourced from small-scale cocoa farmers from  Vietnam, Peru, Madagascar and Venezuela, and is overseen by master French chocolatier Nicolas Berger.

Throughout the exhibit, visitors understand that Frédéric is just one in a long line of notable designers and artists – Damien Hirst, Marc Newsom, Tracey Emin, Takashi Murakami, Frank Gehry, Karl Lagerfeld – who have been invited to collaborate with the brand and reinterpret the house’s classics over the years.

24 Comments on “Living the Dream

  1. Pingback: ReBlogging ‘Living the Dream’ – Link Below | Relationship Insights by Yernasia Quorelios

  2. When you have a name explore all its possibilities…. Again this post reminds me of my dear hotel experience where all training of all dept of LVMH was in the inter i was base and I handle their account with lots of gracious gifts. Thanks for the memories of always. Cheers

    Liked by 3 people

  3. One of my favorite brands! When my Baby Girl was 12-13 she wanted a LV bag so bad. One of our Christmas traditions back then was going up to San Francisco to shop- that year she wanted to stop in the LV store so we did. She went right to the purse wall and sat on the bench in front of it and just worshipped it quietly while I stood back and gave her the space she needed.
    The man working that day looked at her then me. I smiled and mouthed she needs this. He smiled, shrugged and walked away shaking his head but, giving her some alone time with the purses.
    Today we both own a couple of LV bags. We’d both love to go to this store!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Pingback: French fancies: Louis Vuitton – View from the Back

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