Vienna's old town has always been a magnet for shops of all kinds. During the days of the empire, purveyors to the imperial court flocked to the first district with wares ranging from luxury textiles to dazzling jewelry as they vied for position close to the imperial Hofburg palace - the emperor's official residence. A sought-after location to this day, it is now home to an attractive pedestrianized area which links the Kärntner Strasse, Graben and Kohlmarkt shopping streets. Known locally as the Golden U, this part of the first district is now lined with top international stores such as Chanel, Gucci, Burberry, Armani, Akris, Hermès and Swarovski. At the end of 2012 this shopper's paradise will be joined by the Golden Quarter. This exclusive development will occupy a complex of historic, heritage-listed buildings on Tuchlauben, Bognergasse and Am Hof, which will soon be given a new lease on life as an upscale shopping district.
A branch of Emporio Armani, and Europe's second-largest Louis Vuitton flagship store will open in the Golden Quarter in time for Christmas 2012. A second wave of international labels, including Miu Miu, Brioni, Brunello Cucinelli, Church and 7 for all mankind, as well as multi-brand kids store Bambini, is set to move into the historic mansion houses in spring 2013. By 2014, when all of the tenants have moved in, the Golden Quarter will also have its very own Saint Laurent Paris store. The designer stores will be joined by exclusive offices and apartments, as well as a luxury Park Hyatt hotel with 143 rooms.
Located just a stone's throw from the Golden Quarter is a Vivienne Westwood boutique. The recently opened Vienna branch of the iconic UK fashion house carries all of the lines in the range and also has its own couture tailors - something not found anywhere outside its London headquarters. Next door you will find a branch of cult UK underwear brand Agent Provocateur, which was co-founded by Westwood's son Joseph Corre. A few blocks farther on, Viennese designer Eva Blut and upscale Munich-based bicycle brand Stilrad have opened a shared boutique where they showcase their ultra-fashionable bikes and bags.