How a woman’s vision of endless polka dots translated into French luxury brand’s fashion collaboration.
It was back in 2008 featured in Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton documentary that we saw Louis Vuitton’s creative head, designer Marc Jacobs meet the polka-dot obsessed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. It was the meeting of kinds from which a full-fledged collaboration between the luxury label and the artist was to be emerged this year.
What Louis Vuitton did was astonishing. Not only did they sponsor Kusama’s current retrospective touring exhibition (recently shown at Tate Modern in London), Vuitton designed a collection of garments and accessories that are reminiscent of Kusama’s artwork and polka-dotted outlook in life. Scarves, bathing suits, handbags, sunglasses, watch, footwear, trench coats, leather pouches, and some more from the Yayoi Kusama collection for Louis Vuitton.
Louis Vuitton has long collaborated with contemporary artists and designers for a one of a kind collection that has found a huge commercial success. This marriage of art with fashion was seen with previous collections with 80s punk and glamour god Stephen Sprouse. And with Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami with whom the ‘LV’ monogram was transformed into a pop rainbow colour animation series onto leather goods.
Collections with American painter and photographer Richard Prince, who’s nurse paintings—one of which appeared on a Sonic Youth album cover – was a huge reference in the closing looks at the Vuitton Spring 2008 show. In the same Louis Vuitton documentary where we saw Marc Jacobs’ evident love for Yayoi, we also discovered that Marc Jacobs who is a very successful designer today, had not invested in a home or a car but only expensive artwork. His love for the arts transpired in the collections he designs for Louis Vuitton.
It is also perhaps the leadership of CEO Louis Vuitton Yves Carcelle, the 64-year-old Frenchman, who has led the brand to unusually great successes— both in terms of numbers and popularity. Yves Carcelle a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique and the INSEAD school, is an active member of the creative team that reviews the label’s new launches, which a lot of other CEOs choose not get involved in.
Under Carcelle’s tenure, there were numerous art and culture collaborations showcasing the outcomes in the Vuitton boutiques world over making it a French brand that catered to the world rather than just the French. In India, Louis Vuitton held an exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi where heritage Louis Vuitton trunks owned by the Indian royalty were put on display. By the end of 2012, Yves Carcelle will leave Vuitton to become president of the “Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation” within the LVMH Company.
Yayoi Kusama was a successful artist before this collaboration. Amongst Marc Jacobs and the art aficionados, her fan base was evident in hometown Matsumoto where she designed a bus in signature polka dots commissioned by the city. Her success as an artist saw a landmark in 1959 with the “Infinity Net” artwork. Since then, her obsessive, infinite and rhythmic artistic style continues to fascinate the contemporary art world. With this Louis Vuitton tie-up, Yayoi’s name and work will reach shores and new audiences, which she must have never expected at the age of 83.
Kusama’s unique personality and signature are characterised by a captivating world where subversive fondness for avant-garde is united with an impulsive energy. Vuitton designer Marc Jacobs spoke on the Yayoi & Vuitton collection on the company website: “Project is going to be dynamic and very animated like Kusama represents this obsession with Polka Dots and this round shape which has no end and therefore is infinite. It represents a true collaboration because there is very much of the Vuitton monogram and spots from Kusama, and to me both of them are endless, timeless and forever.”
The artwork of Yayoi Kusama is deeply influenced by the intense visions she experienced as a child. Dots, waves and mirrors are her signature, which one can now buy as imposed on their favourite Louis Vuitton products. This is the sort of collaborations that truly honour both parties involved and creates a new entity that has a place of its own in fashion and art.