It was a late night in 2011, and I was living in Milan, Italy at the time. Deciding to take the long route home from work, I strolled through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, often referred to as the world’s oldest shopping mall. I had always been inspired by the gorgeous windows in the open-air arcade, but one in particular stopped me in my tracks that night.
In the front windows of the iconic Louis Vuitton store was a series of large ostrich eggs (pictured below), cracked open to reveal beautiful shoes inside a golden lining. It was simple, clever, but incredibly chic. The ostrich theme continued in the next window, with golden ostrich legs attached to handbags of various sizes. It was a definitely an Instagram-worthy moment.
My memories of the inspiring windows are no longer limited to my Instagram account. Assouline has just released a magnificent new book, Louis Vuitton Windows ($845; assouline.com), containing highlights of the luxury fashion brand’s windows all over the world. Filled with amazing photography and an introduction by Vanessa Friedman, the weighty 168-page oversized book is a piece of art in and of itself.
My having stopped to notice the new windows that night was no coincidence. A few years earlier, it seems, the brand appointed Faye McLeod as its Visual Image director. The book chronicles her (and colleague Ansel Thompson’s) more than 35 displays for the brand, complete with mood boards and sketches to give us a peek into the process. From a colossal roller coaster, golden dinosaurs, and thousands of meticulously placed arrows, the duo outshines themselves with each display. As you pore over the pages with images like bright lacquered pink balloons attached to the season's new handbags, you realize the sky really is the limit for their creativity.
While window-dressing connoisseurs judge the success of a window based on the "smudge test"—the blurrier the window, the more powerful the display behind it—from my view, the most jaw-dropping tableau of all was the 2012 collaboration with artist Yayoi Kusama (pictured above), bursting with a universe of polka dots along with an incredibly lifelike model of the artist, all beyond imagination. It was such a successful display that the windows had to be cleaned four times a day.