Even for Sydney's notoriously opulent party scene, the re-opening of Louis Vuitton's Sydney maison was lavish.
From Lara Worthington, home from New York and wearing monogrammed silk pyjamas, to the after-party on Sydney Harbour with a light show and a performance from Flume, everything about the 500-plus guest party held to celebrate hinted that the luxury brand has huge plans for Sydney consumers.
The megawatt party (including the hangover the following day) was a fitting way to launch the new home of Louis Vuitton Sydney after a 12 month renovation. With a fit-out by New York-based leather-clad architect Peter Marino, the colourful new digs in the 1857 heritage-listed building on George Street include a private 'apartment' where super VIPs can shop (and on very special occasion, dine) in privacy and a striking spiral staircase in the centre of the boutique.
The swish new maison is part of an influx of luxury retailers opening, or reopening after major renovations, boutiques in Australia targeting an increasingly affluent and designer-savvy customer. This has included Bottega Veneta's expansion in Westfield Sydney, new boutiques from watch giants Hublot, IWC Schaffhausen and Jaeger LeCoultre and a renovation for storied French jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels complete with a Parisian inspired apartment for a luxe private shopping experience.
There's plenty more to come this year.
According to market research firm IBIS World, luxury retailing in Australia is worth $2.5 billion a year. The Australian luxury market is expected to grow at a rate of about 6 to 8 per cent until 2024.
Competition for a prime retail spot is, understandably, hotting up. As The AFR reported, fierce competition has hiked up rents exponentially with brands willing to pay up for the perfect location.
They're figures Michael Tuck, senior executive retail leasing at Colliers International, says speak to a healthy appetite for luxury in Australia.
"Luxury is really taking off," he says, noting that this interest means the traditional homes for luxury brands, precincts such as Castlereagh Street in Sydney or Collins Street in Melbourne, are expanding to include new pockets such as King Street in Sydney and landlords are accommodating luxury with new developments.
Patience is a virtue
He says luxury brands are willing to wait years to find the right spot and that there's "no ceiling on the cost," when it comes to re-decorating.
What's more, he's noticed a distinct lack of the oft written about retail doom and gloom;
"I deal with all levels of retail, from premium and up to luxury and there's been strong growth for all brands," he says.
"CBD retail is happy."
What to get excited about in 2020
In 2020 Hermès will open its new Sydney flagship store on George Street which, with a reported $30 million fit-out, will be the house's biggest in the world. It's rumoured that Maison Valentino, Jimmy Choo and Brunello Cucinelli (and more) are also looking for space.
Sydney's King Street is fast becoming a hot spot for luxury watches with the likes of Florentine watchmaker Officine Panerai setting up shop. The brand opened its first Sydney boutique in December, a stylish space that nods to the house's connection to the sea.
Shop 3, 84 King Street, Sydney. panerai.com
Swiss watchmaker Hublot opened its first standalone Australian boutique this month on, yep, Sydney's King Street. In the plush boutique you'll find special limited-editions as well as timepieces from collections such as Big Bang, Classic Fusion and Spirit of Big Bang.
Shop 5, 84 King Street Sydney. hublot.com
Hedi Slimane's singular vision is fully enacted in Celine's sleek new Melbourne boutique on Collins Street. The boutique is one of Slimane's new look boutiques for the maison and the brutalist aesthetic of the fit-out suits his clothes perfectly.
113 Collins Street, Melbourne. celine.com
In a big year for IWC Schaffhausen the Swiss watchmakers opened standalone boutiques in Melbourne and Sydney in 2019. The Sydney boutique will stock limited-editions and timepieces from its six watch families including Pilot's Watches and Aquatimer.
Shop 2, 84 King Street, Sydney and Shop 9/360 Collins St, Melbourne. iwc.com