Nothing signals the start of the festive season quite as elegantly as the unveiling of Claridge's Christmas tree, which this year has been designed by iconic fashion house, Louis Vuitton.

Claridge’s and Louis Vuitton have a longstanding history, as revealed in today's 'Cultural Christmas' interview by Paula Fitzherbert, Global Head of Communications at Maybourne Hotel Group. Paula discusses the brands' shared passion for travel; her favourite festive collaborations from years gone by; and the traditions which make Christmas at Claridge's a 'very special experience' indeed...

The unveiling of the Claridge’s Christmas tree has become as highly an anticipated event as the big day itself. Can you tell us about this year’s design?

Every year, for the past 14 years, we have asked one of our distinguished friends or guests of Claridge’s to add their own creative interpretation to Claridge’s Christmas Tree in the heart of the hotel. This year, we have collaborated with our friends at Louis Vuitton to join together our two illustrious luxury names - and our long-standing, shared celebration of the Art of Travel - which inspires the tree’s design.

Louis Vuitton himself would have packed the trunks for Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, who always made Claridge’s her winter residence, and the Maison’s first London store opened in 1885 around the corner from the hotel.  

The Claridge’s Christmas Tree 2023 by Louis Vuitton is a magnificent sculptural creation immersed within two large open, emblematic Malles Vestiaire or ‘Wardrobe Trunks’ towering on top of each other at a height of 5.2 metres.

Each signature trunk is adorned with Claridge’s travel stickers of yesteryear and an oversized Louis Vuitton luggage tag. Exuding a festive charm, the tree is composed of 15 vertically placed chrome repurposed trunks of varying heights that tower to create the silhouette of a traditional Christmas tree and reflect the Art Deco architecture.  Scattered atop the silver trunks and amidst the snowy landscape of the tree are 21 Louis Vuitton Vivienne mascots.

It has been hugely popular and the hotel lobby is awash with festive revellers all trying to capture images for their social media.

What other designs over the years do you consider particularly memorable?

I have been working on the Claridge’s Christmas Tree since the beginning, and I do indeed have a few favourites! Probably the first tree in 2009; a frozen tropical creation with snakes and leopards by designer John Galliano for Dior, which really transformed the whole concept of the 'traditional' Christmas Tree and the arrival of a more artistic ‘installation‘. It was quite a shock for our more conservative guests, but over the years people have learnt to love them and expect something a little different.

I also loved the arrival of the ‘Loubi Express’: a red train carriage that arrived in the lobby from Paris, designed by our guest Christian Louboutin – here, you could even enjoy a glass of champagne complete with train conductor!      

How will you and/or Claridge’s be celebrating Christmas this year?

Christmas is a very special time at Claridge’s with many families celebrating with us every year. The hotel and dining rooms are full with traditional celebrations… We always have carrots and warm milk left by the fire on Christmas Eve; all guests receive a Christmas stocking; and on Christmas morning itself we have horses and carriages parked outside to take guests on a festive ride around Mayfair – it’s a very special experience.

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