23-Nov, 07:00

09:50, November 07 67 0

2017-11-07 09:50:02
Another Arnault Steps Into the Spotlight

“I have always liked drinking Champagne,” said Stephanie Watine Arnault, the niece of Bernard Arnault, the chairman of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton luxury conglomerate, and reportedly France’s richest man — and the latest family member to step into the spotlight.

“I got a taste for it when I was very young and growing up in France,” Ms. Watine Arnault, said, tucking back a strand of her long blond hair. “My grandmother used to let me have sips at the dinner table. And that was that.”

Now she has convinced her uncle to help her share her taste with others. On Nov. 2, Clos19, LVMH’s first e-boutique and travel experience agency dedicated to Champagne, wines and spirits, had its debut in the United States, via a fizz-fueled soiree in New York. The focus of Ms. Watine Arnault’s brainchild, she said after the party, is on the “art of hosting” in the 21st century.

So what, one wonders, does that entail? Clos19 isn’t exactly an online bottle shop. Yes, you can order crates of LVMH’s finest drinks brands, like Dom Pérignon, Veuve Cliquot, Belvedere or Hennessy, to be delivered to your door in 24 hours. But you can also specify the temperature of the deliveries, and the glassware to go with it. Tastings or consultations with in-house experts will be regularly offered, as is event planning for weddings and dinner parties.

Clos19 also offers access to LVMH cellars or experiences designed around the spirits, including a fire-and-ice tasting in Antarctica or yachting off the Cloudy Bay vineyards in New Zealand. The lowest-priced experience is about $230, with the cost of luxury scaling up from there to dizzying heights.

“It had been a labor of love but an amazingly exciting few years getting this project off the ground,” Ms. Watine Arnault said. Soft-spoken and slight, she was born in northern France in 1983. She holds a business degree from Insead (European Institute of Business Administration), and she is based in London, as is her team of 15 Clos19 employees.

She is also the fifth member of the second Arnault generation to take a prominent role in LVMH. First up were her cousins (Mr. Arnault’s children), Delphine, the executive vice president at Louis Vuitton, and Antoine, the chief executive at Berluti. Then, Alexandre became co-C.E.O. of the luggage brand Rimowa last October, while his younger brother, Frederic, has been working across the portfolio of brands.

That said, Ms. Watine Arnault has long been a familiar face within the LVMH empire, with stints at Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy Europe. It was while working in the innovation group of Moët Hennessy that she had the idea for Clos19. The name is inspired by the concept of the walled vineyard in Champagne, or “clos,” and the democratization of Champagne in the 19th century, hence the “19.”

The business began in Britain earlier this year, followed by Germany. The focus now, she said, will be on rolling out the concept beyond New York and California in the United States, to Florida, Texas and Illinois.