We chat to LVMH's visual image director Faye McLeod about her work - including the stunning window displays at Paris' Printemps Haussmann store - and creative process
Yesterday, we previewed a glimpse of Louis Vuitton Loves Printemps - a special collaboration between the fabled French luxury label and the Parisian shopping institution. With the finished windows now on display on Boulevard Haussmann (see the gallery above), we chat to LVMH visual image director Faye McLeod to discover the woman behind the windows. After joining Louis Vuitton in 2009, she was appointed to her current post in 2012 and she currently has studios in New York and Paris, where she dreams up visual designs for Louis Vuitton, Dior and other LVMH brands.
What's the most unusual design you ever worked on? And what was your first piece of work?
My first work at Vuitton was the New Bond Street store opening where we curated cabinets of curiosity using patrimony and new product, showing a collector's desire. We produced all types of animals - my favourite was a giraffe and a green frog.
My most unusual design was probably our Frank Gehry windows. We worked on Frank Gehry's software to get the right engineering and layout in place. We sampled a lot of materials and ways of producing these sails to get it [the way] Frank wanted.
What has been the trickiest in terms of production?
They are all pretty tricky as our timelines can be short and our level of production quality is high. Yayoi Kusama was a long process as we produced these centrally and validated everything in Tokyo with Yayoi and her team. We aimed for perfection and in my view we achieved it - noses were pressed against the glass in every city.
You've worked with artists Daniel Buren and Yayoi Kusama. What's creating something with leading contemporary artists like? How does it differ from working with designers?
It's a real privilege to work with these artists and architects and the process is no different to working with a designer except the designer you get closer to, because it's an ongoing relationship. We've been very lucky to collaborate with characters who really welcomed us into their world and gave us all a real lesson into their process.
We constantly have to pinch ourselves as it is such an honour to see them so happy seeing the end result and how viewers interact with our window space. The process has so far been joyful on every level... My team and I love a challenge.
Are there trends in window decoration? How has the idea of the perfect window changed throughout time?
Standards in windows are getting higher all the time so we just keep our eyes on the elevating design whatever way we can and work from the heart. Technology will be a big factor in the future but currently it's not there yet in windows. We don't follow trends at LV as we work so far in advance (12 months), so we have to use our instinct and tell stories from the heart.
What's the most difficult part of the process?
Coming up with the idea... sometimes it flows easily and sometimes it doesn't.
How does one balance the creative and the business part?
Personally I love creative and business, working with both mindsets is what drives me. It's all about engaging the viewer and showing our storytelling visually. We have a creative studio where our output is 3D drawings and many ideas. We work hard to make it a safe space to create and a fun environment. It's a real creative studio - music on rather loud, tea and and coffee always on and activity aplenty - there's always a 3D printer on and models being built. We have a 'no rules' policy to getting an idea out - whether its printing, plasticine, drawing or some vintage object I've found that we end up cutting up.
Tell us about the Louis Vuitton at the Printemps Haussmann department store- what's the concept?
It's to launch Louis Vuitton Fragrances and show the universe of Louis Vuitton. We created a galaxy where the collections are shown in the space using mannequins that float in space and tripods holding products. We also worked with Michel Gaubert on the music which plays in the street. It was so much fun designing this and partnering with the Printemps Haussmann team.