A whirlwind recap of the glittering Louis Vuitton events in Monte Carlo and Paris


For delusional reasons, I had somehow imagined that Paris Haute Couture Week would be a quiet reappearance in the barely remembered world of in-person fashion shows and gatherings.

How wrong I was! Now on the TGV train to Avignon – in a state of total breakdown, exhaustion, and I would have to add a euphoric high on the wonders that have been revealed in the last few days – my whirlwind twenty-four hours in Monte Carlo a week before, it seems half a life away to celebrate the unveiling of Francesca Amfitheatrof’s amazing Louis Vuitton jewelry collection. But what a glamorous way it was to start a week of wonder.

The excitement started at the Hotel Metropole when my windows opened onto a terrace overlooking the harbor. Seagulls howled overhead and the salty Mediterranean breeze was mild after the Manhattan heat wave I’d left hours earlier.

Gustave Eiffel built the hotel’s magnificent Art Nouveau atrium from 1889 – a winter garden made of swirling iron volutes – the same year that he built his iconic Parisian tower. It is certainly an atmospheric place to have breakfast, and I wonder how many unfortunate players drowned their worries under the Belle Epoque stucco and gilded Rococo scrolls in the ballroom of the architect Hans-Görg Tersling wildly above the top ballroom? (Prince Philip’s father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and no stranger to the joys of the gaming tables, died in the hotel in 1944).

The festivities began when we took speedboats to a wave-washed promontory under a rocky hill topped by La Vigie, the large white cube of a villa from 1902. It was once inhabited by Princess Daisy von Pless and was later restored At great expense, by the famous and sometimes Monegasque resident Karl Lagerfeld, who lived in it for a few years before returning it to the community.

Far below, the tables were set in pale coral and spiky blue and white flowers and I soon found that I was sitting very happily next to the ridiculously pretty Laura Harrier glistening in Nicolas Ghesquiere’s Louis Vuitton rhinestones and Francesca Amfitheatrof’s incredible blue-green cabochon opal ring, that you just wanted to immerse yourself in. On my other side was the equally funny Alicia Vikander in a black ‘tuxedo’ mini dress and diamonds. The evening was a perfect tonic for jet lag. Across from me, the artist actress Lousita Cash provided more shine with a handful of great rings and a shiny gold Vuitton mini dress.

Monte Carlo is certainly an unusual place; As we looked across the water back at the city, the hills of which were crowded with towering luxury skyscrapers and turn-of-the-century mansions – some of the world’s most expensive stratospheric properties – Laura playfully wondered if there had been a power outage: there was hardly any light on. However, our little headland was soon on fire – we had our own fireworks display when a parade of models, dressed in black or ivory-colored satin evening gowns, with pieces from the new collection swept by.

The next morning, Francesca Amfitheatrof gave us a tour of her latest Bravery collection near the Hotel de Paris, and seeing them up close was a next level experience. Drawing on Louis Vuitton’s intrepid and self-made odyssey – and his embrace of innovation as inspiration – Amfitheatrof Vuitton’s patented star-cut diamonds and a net of rubies in the La Passion necklace – an Edwardian dog collar suitable for Moulin Rouge’s satine, but if I had my Druther and a Monegasque bank account, the necklace (with its amazing collection of cabochon tanzanite, opals and diamonds) would find its way into my Vuitton jewelry box.

Then I set off to explore Monte Carlo, touring the picture-perfect toy city palace of the Grimaldi and, on Francesca’s advice, the Oceanographic Museum. It was built in 1910 at the behest of the seafarer Prince Albert I and is located on a cliff above the Mediterranean Sea. It’s an eccentric triumph of the Art Nouveau whim on the navy theme. Inside, you’ll find mosaic floors depicting translucent octopuses or sea birds landing on foaming waves, as well as exhibits on the worlds of Prince Albert and Jacques-Yves Cousteau (who served as director of the institute from 1957 to 1988). It was the amphitheater that came up with the brilliant idea to present Damien Hirst’s work here, which he realized in 2010 for the Cornucopia exhibition. Afterwards, an exceptionally delicious lunch at COYA, the renowned Peruvian fusion restaurant, took me on my merry way to Paris.

There were further Vuitton celebrations in the French capital, this time to celebrate Frank Gehry, who designed his first perfume bottle for the house at the age of 92. He transformed the vessel with the Les Extraits collection by master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud from five different scents into a small sculpture with pastel-colored bottles and silver stoppers like crumpled paper.

The event took place in the towering atrium of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, which was a gem in itself; Each table was set with a different historical Sevres porcelain service and really exquisite flowers. All of this provided a wonderful slide of the old world to the magnificent Gehry lights above us, floating like huge clouds of crumpled paper.

Chef Jean-Louis Nomicos prepared a tasting menu with each course, which is supposed to be reminiscent of the romantically titled fragrances – for example Dancing Blossom or Cosmic Cloud. Elusive concepts, but gosh, it was delicious! After dessert, Katy Perry took the stage and gave us firework, among other things. More magic in the city of light!