Lewis Hamilton Rimowa
Lewis Hamilton poses inside the giant silver papaya at the launch of Rimowa’s new seasonal colours in Seoul. Photography: courtesy of Rimowa

THERE IS A GIANT PAPAYA, split in half, sitting in the middle of the room. Crafted from reflective glass, it serves as a sculptural centrepiece, a mirror selfie moment, and, most importantly, a passage through which some of the world’s biggest stars will soon walk. Outside, hundreds of people are lining up around the block to catch a glimpse of those stars, who are set to arrive at any moment. Formula 1 driver and Rimowa ambassador Sir Lewis Hamilton has flown in for the event, while K-pop stars Rowoon, Wonwoo and S.Coups of Seventeen, Baekhyun and Xiumin of Exo and Haruto and Junkyu of Treasure are all set to make appearances. As is the New Zealand-born, Melbourne-raised, Korean pop princess and fellow Rimowa ambassador Rosé, whose extreme popularity is unbelievable to behold. 

We’re in Seoul to celebrate the launch of Rimowa’s latest seasonal colours, Mint and Papaya (hence the giant papaya). It’s a drizzly evening, but the vibes inside S-Factory are anything but grey. Dotting the periphery of the room are the German maison’s suitcases, which, airbrushed in mint and papaya tones, are inspired by the vibrant charm of tropical destinations. They look good enough to eat, which makes sense – we soon learn that all of the evening’s very photogenic canapés and drinks are mint and papaya themed. According to the brand, mint draws inspiration from the pastel-hued buildings characteristic of tropical cities, while papaya – a bright and radiant shade of orange – transports whoever is wheeling it to a beachside sunset. 

Lewis Hamilton and Rosé.
Lewis Hamilton in Dior.

A swarm of people – brand ambassadors, friends of the brand, style influencers and journalists – gather to one side of the papaya sculpture as those very famous faces begin to file in from the other. A sea of phones rise into the air as each new celebrity enters the room. It is an extraordinary display of fandom, and we’re totally caught up in it, snapping away like K-pop tragics. 

But moreover, it’s an extraordinary display of Rimowa’s cachet. Few brands are capable of getting so many cool and influential people inside the one room, in a city well outside the usual fashion capitals. 

But of course, it is Rimowa’s purpose to get people travelling far and wide – it may be a brand that crafts extremely well-made suitcases with status, but it’s a travel company at heart. It transported us to Seoul for the launch of its new Essential colours, yes, but also to experience a burgeoning travel destination and the culture it has to offer. To quote the brand’s Instagram bio, ‘No one builds a legacy by standing still’. And it’s by encouraging people like us to explore the world that Rimowa has built a reputation as the maker of the world’s best suitcases; an enabler of getting to exciting destinations in style. 

Presumably, ‘in style’ is exactly how Lewis Hamilton travelled to Seoul. Arriving at the launch party, the Mercedes driver is dressed in a drapey Dior suit, with a bulbous pearl necklace strung around his neck. Steeze. He chats with Rimowa CEO Hugues Bonnet-Masimbert after posing inside the papaya, and smiles at the sea of phones, all fixed firmly on his elegant fit. 

Wonwoo and S.Coups of Seventeen.

Then Rosé enters the room. In a photo that is currently circulated all over social media, racking up likes in the millions, the star of K-pop girl group Blackpink poses with Hamilton. It’s hard to believe that standing in front of us are two of the world’s most culturally relevant celebrities, from two very different realms of fame, brought together by Rimowa. 

After the official moments are through, it’s time to party. Everyone makes their way into another section of S-Factory, where DJs are playing, colourful drinks are being served and the crowd, buzzed from being in the presence of such star power, begins to dance. 

It’s impressive to think that a premium polycarbonate suitcase, no matter how pretty its colours, could be the basis of such a spectacle. But again, Rimowa doesn’t just make exceptional suitcases in awe-inspiring shades – it brings those of us who love to travel together, and, with each new release, makes us excited for journeys to come. 

The Mint and Papaya colours will be available across Rimowa’s Essential suitcase range, select designs from the Signature collection, the Rimowa Personal range, the Rimowa Unique customisation programme and a selection of travel accessories from May 2. Rimowa.com


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