How Much Is That Eye in the Window?

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The new Louis Vuitton windows. Don't blink! Photo: Rachel Wolff


This is shaping up as a fairly interesting season in shop windows. We've already seen a display of bizarre absinthe dispensers (at Bergdorf Goodman) and a window pretending to be a blog (at Saks). The new Louis Vuitton displays, however, which were unveiled this morning at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street — and will go in all 364 Vuitton stores worldwide — take the cake in one crucial respect: They don't display any of merchandise on sale in the store. That's right: There are no monogrammed bags, scarves, or luggage in sight and won't be till mid-January. Instead, we're getting enormous muted spotlights resembling purple-irised eyes with an uncomfortable tinge of jaundice, installation works by Danish conceptualist Olafur Eliasson. (His cut is going entirely to his charitable organization, 121Ethiopia.org.)

Could this be the sort of Christmas display Vuitton execs had in mind?

"They were very forthcoming in the sense that they wanted what we did to come across as a serious work of art," says Eliasson. "This doesn't mean that they always saw things the way that I did. Which, I guess, is not so unusual. Essentially, they saw the potential in the reception, that it would come across as 'Louis Vuitton did a serious work of art.'"

Or else the firm just has eyes for, well, eyes. It's worth remembering that Louis Vuitton's previous collaboration with an international artist — the merch designed with Japan's Takashi Murakami a few seasons ago — also involved a swarm of stylized eyeballs. Unlike Murakami's happy peepers, though, Eliasson's irises — titled Eye See You — glare at the shopper in a godlike, humbling fashion: a chance to check yourself before you walk in or breeze past in search of the season's latest.

Rachel Wolff