Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
After working in a customer-facing role at Louis Vuitton, Stephanie Watine Arnault (the niece of LVMH’s Bernard Arnault) saw an opportunity to go beyond e-commerce and into experience, engaging clients more directly. She founded Clos19, which launched at the end of 2017, as an online platform for champagne, wine, and spirits. The site offers products, hosting tips, and luxury excursions to places like the Scottish Highlands, London, and even Antarctica to live the history and lifestyle of brands like Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon, Louis Vuitton, and more.
Whitewall spoke with Arnault about her vision for Clos19, a completely new kind of high-end immersion.
WHITEWALL: How did you arrive at your idea of developing a real interaction between luxury brand and customer?
STEPHANIE WATINE ARNAULT: I could see that there was real value in developing a relationship with our customers, to build far more than an e-commerce site, but to engage with our customers. This was confirmed when I visited the different wine and champagne maisons within LVMH to learn about their history and the way products are made. At Veuve Clicquot, Madame Clicquot used to keep a beautiful cahier de commandes, where she took customers’ orders and therefore learned about her customers’ tastes and how to give them even more enjoyment. She knew their names, what they were buying, so she could really engage with these people. I’m trying to re-create that, but with digital.
WW: What kind of space did you want to create online?
SWA: I wanted to create a playful and engaging platform, which also communicated on the heritage and history of our maisons in a contemporary way. I felt it was important to develop something with a lifestyle element that would inspire the art of hosting and communicate the values of the art de vivre. Using a more lifestyle approach to give our consumers direct access to our maisons seemed like a natural evolution.
WW: What sorts of experiences do you want Clos19 customers to have?
SWA: Enjoyable ones! One of the aims is for Clos19 customers to learn more about the heritage and history of our brands while enjoying privileged access to some of the LVMH maisons and the passionate people that work within them. We also want to ensure that we add interesting and memorable elements around the art of hosting to our tailor-made experiences.
WW: What makes a successful host?
SWA: A successful host ensures that their guests enjoy themselves while also enjoying hosting. I personally love to host and have always thought that the art of hosting is so much more than simply what you serve your guests. It is about bringing friends and family together in a thoughtful way and how you dress the space, the music you play, and the people you invite.
I hosted a New Year’s Eve party a few years ago at my grandparents’ house in the north of France with old friends and family. Before dinner we went to the cellars to select wine and champagne. I found bottles of Dom Pérignon 1982, which was a very welcome surprise, and we served it as an aperitif. I also found Christmas cards that my brother and I had sent to my grandparents when we were small children—it was a wonderfully nostalgic evening.
I also recently stayed at the amazing hotel Domaine des Etangs, which is part of our Bordeaux and Cognac experience—an extremely memorable stay, which gave me lots of inspiration for ideas for hosting at home.
WW: Clos19 offers access to the Louis Vuitton Private Apartment on New Bond Street in London. What surprises await in the private location?
SWA: It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you! What I can tell you is that the apartment has some of the most stunning artwork and sculptures and that the experience that we offer showcases the flawless craftsmanship of both Louis Vuitton and the Clos19 portfolio.
WW: Clos19’s approach seems to be a response to the desire for one-of-a-kind, memorable moments—a place to facilitate moments where we can slow down and enjoy each other’s company, life’s simple pleasures, et cetera. Is that a reaction to our more screen-obsessed day-to-day life?
SWA: In a way, I suppose it is—I wanted to use the digital world to help bring people together in real life. Genuine connection is at the core of Clos19. We wanted to communicate this through our advertising campaign and the short film that we made with Mike Mills. The “Bring Them In” campaign and the short film focus on the lives of real people, circles of friends, and encouraging memorable experiences around those relationships.