I remember the first time I got to touch a Leica camera. “Be careful, it’s one of my most loved possessions. And it costs a 6 month salary”, the proud owner exclaimed. Needless to say, I handed it right back and his words were enough for me to define the Leica brand.
On Wednesday I got the honor of attending the press event pre-opening for the newest flagship Leica store right here in Los Angeles. And what a treat it was! I got a private tour from the CEO Alfred Schopf. We walked around and chatted about the history of Leica and flipped through amazing photo books together. Oh, of course the books- the store is also a gallery of renowned photographers like Mary Ellen Mark, Yariv Milchan and Seal as well as a retail space for not only Leica products but also books and apparel. “This can be a great venue for parties”, I blurbed out, hoping I didn’t step over a boundary. “That’s what we are hoping”, reassured me Dr. Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Leica. “We want this to be a place where art, photography and culture come together”.
My favorite part? The upstairs outdoor lounge with white couches and glass windows where you can sit and relax while reading your favorite photography book. That’s just where I happened to be standing when I saw Seal pull up and wave to us (ok, it probably wasn’t directed to me..) as he entered the gallery. After all, he is one of the artists whose work is exhibited in this beautiful space that I know will be the new hotspot not just for Leica’s long time fans but for all artists alike. The next day we were all invited to the official launch party where we got to mingle with over 1000 Leica fans. Of course champagne glasses were floating around in everyone’s hands, because if that’s not a call for celebration, I don’t know what is.
Vilte S. Holstad is a publicist and freelance writer living in Venice Beach, California.