In a time when all of the world’s most luxurious shopping is now also available at the click of a mouse, luxury brands are having to go above and beyond to secure in-store purchases which means shopping experiences are continuing to become more elaborate and intimate for the lucky high-end shopper.
Many stores are works of art in-and-of themselves and well worth the first-class fare across the globe to see in person. These retail experiences are about more than simply purchasing something shiny and new, they are full-blown affairs that only a lot of money can buy.
Take a look behind the velvet curtain...
House of Bijan - Los Angeles
Created by the late Iranian-American designer Bijan Pakzad, this menswear heavy boutique is described as the most expensive store in the world and is accessible by appointment only. The store is most noticeable because of the exclusive one-off yellow $1.7 million Bijan Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport that can always be found parked out the front on Rodeo Drive.
Clients include actors, designers and even presidents and prime ministers including Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Tom Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The store was recently purchased by luxury group LVMH for a record breaking $122 million.
Bergdorf Goodman - New York
Opened in 1928, Bergdorf Goodman is one of New York’s most storied luxury department stores based on Fifth Avenue, pulling in approximately $600 million per annum in sales making it one of the most successful stores in the US. The nine floors of Bergdorf Goodman’s women’s store (the men’s store is across the street) hold the most exclusive designer collections from Alexander Wang to Zac Posen and everything in between. The store also has the most elaborate and celebrated store windows of any retailer in New York.
One of the most luxurious shopping experiences in the world is an appointment with one of Bergdorf’s highly regarded personal stylists of which they have almost 40, each with their own unique taste.
The interesting thing about the Bergdorf personal stylists is that their service is complimentary, so if you’re in town and looking to find that special handbag to remember your trip by then why not enlist the aid of the professionals to find just the right one?
The Windsor Suite - Heathrow Airport
From behind an unmarked door in Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 is a private lounge reserved for celebrities, sports stars and politicians each paying between £1,800 and £2,700 to be able to breeze on past immigration and baggage straight to the lounge.
However one of the most luxurious parts of the lounge is its access to personal shopping sessions. Heathrow’s VIP personal shoppers select items that The Windsor Suite guests can shop from, in the comfort of the lounge, from the airport’s luxury flagship stores like Dior, Gucci, Prada, Alexander McQueen and Louis Vuitton.
The List - The Dubai Mall
One of the most luxurious malls in the world (and the largest by total area), The Dubai Mall takes the shopping experience one step beyond its already colossal 1,200 stores by having a VIP club only accessible to those who have spent at least AED 100,000 within the previous month.
Those who make it through the application process receive luxury amenities such as a lounge with food and beverage services, porter services and valet parking in addition to personal shoppers.
Bourdon House, London
What was once the residence of the Duke of Westminster, this stunning Georgian mansion is home to Alfred Dunhill’s flagship Bourdon House. This unique shopping experience caters to the discerning gentleman and in addition to its retail floor holds a tailoring studio, marble-lined spa, an old-fashioned barbershop, 12-seat screening room and a cellar bar with outdoor terrace.
Louis Vuitton - Paris
One part luxury store, one part contemporary gallery is how you would describe Louis Vuitton’s flagship 101 Champs Elysees, Paris store. Designed by American architect Eric Carlson, the LV boutique spans five levels with a continuous four level spiral of terraces. The the top floor features the Espace Vuitton - a contemporary art gallery with rotating exhibitions by up-and-coming artists, a library and jaw-dropping view of Paris.
The ceiling inside the atrium is adorned in a series of oversized sewing needle-like metal rods that if joined tail-to-tail would equal the distance to and from the original LV design house. To take advantage of the full Louis Vuitton flagship experience there are in-house personal stylists catering to the rich and famous where appointments naturally are accompanied by a glass (or two) of Veuve Clicquot in hand.
Palazzo Ralph Lauren, Milan
One of the most exclusive retail destinations on this list is the Palazzo Ralph Lauren, a private, invite-only members club based in a sprawling string of suites within a grand apartment in Milan.
The apartment also has a rooftop terrace, in-house chef and an overflowing collection of exclusive items not available in any other Ralph Lauren store. The space, which resembles an intimate home setting rather than a store, allows for more exclusive relationships with its VIP clients who can view the collection on models, hold private fittings and receive invites to exclusive events. How you can secure your own invite, however, remains a mystery.