"We created a galaxy, a landscape far far away" – Faye McLeod on Louis Vuitton's Printemps windows
The story behind the scene
Y ou may not know the name Faye McLeon but chances are you've walked by one of her windows. The now Visual Image Director for LVMH has just unveiled her latest work, the Louis Vuitton Loves Printemps window, which can be seen at 11 stores across Paris. Today, the New-York-Paris-based Scottish designer speaks to Buro 24/7 about her game-changing designs, Frank Gehry and those pinch-me moments...
What was the first window you ever created for Louis Vuitton?
The first work at Louis 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 — the giraffe was my favourite along with the green frog.
What's the most unusual design you've ever worked on?
The most unusual design was probably our Frank Gehry Windows, where 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 to what Franks wants.
You once said you started designing by considering different cultures and geographies. Are there specific differences between designing windows for certain countries that impact the creative process and are they therefore worth mentioning?
All of our windows are architecturally different; we design to each specification. When we work on windows for a new store opening, we really work to be culturally relevant. For example, with the New Bond Street opening we wanted to speak to eccentric collectors with a sense of humour.
Speaking of your works, which was the trickiest one 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 Daniel Buren and Yayoi Kusama. What is it like creating something with leading contemporary artists? In which way does it differ from working with professional designers, and what's the most complicated thing about it?
In my view it's a real privilege to work with these artists and architects. The process is no different to working with a designer except that with a designer you become closer, as it's the ongoing relationship that creates their vision. We've been very lucky to collaborate with characters who have really welcomed us into their world and given us all a real lesson into their process. My team and I love a challenge on any level.
We have to constantly to pinch ourselves as it's such an honour to see the designers so happy with the end result. to see how viewers interact with our window space.
Do you think one can say there are certain trends in window decoration? How has the idea of the perfect window changed throughout time?
Standards in windows are getting higher all of the time so we just keep our eyes on design and work from the heart. Technology will be a big factor in the future but we don't follow trends at Louis Vuitton because we work 12 months in advance. We have to use our instinct and storytell from the heart.
As for working with superbrands like Louis Vuitton, how does one balance the creative part and the business part? Do you see what you do as pieces of art or as creative tasks to be completed?
Personally I love creative and business, working with both mindsets is what drives me. The more knowledge we have the better creative we can serve up to deliver results. It's all about engaging the viewer and showing our storytelling visually.
We have a creative studio where the music's on rather loud, coffee's always on hand the 3D printer is always building models. We have a no rules policy to formulating an idea.
What is the most difficult part in the window decoration work process?
Coming up with the idea. Sometimes it flows easily and sometimes it doesn't.
Louis Vuitton has overtaken the windows of the famous Printemps Haussmann department store for several weeks. What are the conceptual and technical specificities of this dedicated window concept?
The windows were designed to launch the Louis Vuitton fragrances. We created a galaxy, a landscape far far away where the collections are shown in space, using sculpted mannequins that float and tripods that hold products. We also worked with Michel Gaubert on music, which plays in the street. It was so much fun designing this and partnering with the Printemps Haussmann teams who are always so encouraging to work with. I hope the viewers enjoy these unique Windows.
Now, discover the Louis Vuitton Les Parfums collection, which is launching September 1, 2016.