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19 Dec

Louis Vuitton Goes Big With Yayoi Kusama Collaboration

Louis Vuitton goes dotty — on a world scale.

In its most extensive collaboration with a superb artist so far, the posh giant is rolling out ready-to-wear, leather goods, accessories and even perfumes done in collaboration with Yayoi Kusama, together with dedicated campaigns and a bunch of high-profile activations.

Steven Meisel’s images of Gisele Bündchen, Liya Kebede, Devon Aoki, Christy Turlington, Anok Yai and other famous models break on Dec. 26 in Japanese fashion magazines. The primary products drop on Jan. 1 in Japan and China, considered a pre-launch, and needs to be in all 460 Louis Vuitton boutiques worldwide on Jan. 6.

Delphine Arnault, who as Vuitton’s executive vice chairman supervises all of its product-related activities, described the collaboration as a gathering of two like-minded design studios and workshops obsessive about perfection in concept, execution and craft.

In an interview at Vuitton headquarters in Paris, with its staggering views of the Seine River, Arnault said the project was a 12 months and a half within the making, conceived and realized within the midst of the coronavirus pandemic via Zoom and file-sharing technology linking the French capital and Tokyo, where the 93-year-old artist is predicated.

“Considered one of the features of her work is happiness, and we thought it will be really refreshing after the pandemic to have the worlds of Vuitton and the world of Kusama meet again,” she said, alluding to an initial, successful first collaboration in 2012.

Vuitton began teasing the most recent hookup last May, when Nicolas Ghesquière, the brand’s artistic director of ladies’s collections, accessorized a few of his cruise 2023 outfits with polka-dot handbags.

A Louis Vuitton sandal with metal dots.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

The pace has quickened in recent weeks. A Tokyo takeover involved landmarks comparable to the Tokyo Tower, Zojoji Temple and Tokyo station with a combination of physical installations and augmented reality activations.

“The response was amazing,” Arnault enthused.

Indeed, an Instagram post of the anamorphic billboard Vuitton installed in Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku district has racked up greater than 10 million views. It depicts Kusama peering out from a decorated Vuitton trunk with some animated fruit friends.

Meanwhile, other posts on Instagram, where Vuitton counts greater than 50 million followers, have shown Kusama handing spotted gourds to Dutch model Rianne Van Rompaey, one among the campaign faces, who also appears to be standing on top of the artist’s signature bright-red bob hairstyle.

Arnault hinted at other citywide takeovers in Paris, London and Recent York next 12 months. “It’s really essential to speak globally, but in addition do work locally,” she said, promising “some surprises” in numerous parts of every city, together with pop-ups, pop-ins, augmented reality features and even a gaming app.

A second drop of products is scheduled for March 31, to be backed by one other ad campaign still under wraps.

Kusama is best known for her obsession with polka dots, which she has painted since age 10 and applied to canvases, tree trunks, entire rooms and even people. She has also done collages, soft sculptures and performance art.

Giselle

Giselle

Courtesy

Known for her exacting approach — each dot in her “infinity” paintings is painstakingly placed — Kusama is a prolific artist who has had a hand within the conceptual, feminist, minimalist, surrealist, pop and abstract art movements since her first appearance on the scene within the Fifties. 

Arnault lauded Kusama as one of the vital famous female artists working today, and one of the vital essential artists to emerge from Japan.

“It’s a really inclusive art,” she said. “It speaks to everyone — it might speak to a baby; it might speak to an mental. It’s not too hard to grasp, even though it’s very complex.”

Huge lines form every time museums feature one among Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror Rooms,” which permit viewers to gaze upon countless reflections of colourful lights.

Arnault marveled that Kusama’s art has been so prescient of today’s appetite for immersive experiences, and works which can be so irresistibly Instagrammable and shareable.

The Vuitton collaboration encompasses Kusama’s “infinity dots” and metal dots, first introduced in 1966, together with floral and pumpkin motifs.

A silk square printed with “infinity dots” and a pumpkin.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Arnault pulled out a Capucine leather bag, one of the vital expensive items within the range at 8,800 euros, and a petite Alma canvas bag, each of them covered with colourful, but irregular dots.

“We have now a way for perfection, for detail, for creativity, for innovation, and we felt that the studio of Mrs. Kusama was speaking the identical language,” Arnault explained, a smile spreading over her face. “She has an obsession with the dot. And we have now an obsession with the monogram.”

Vuitton’s repetitive design, with the LV initials interspersed with stylized flowers, first debuted on trunks in 1896 and has grow to be one among its most potent, and popular, brand signifiers.

Arnault explained that Vuitton’s teams were tasked with reproducing the dots Kusama once hand-painted on a trunk. After countless trials, they achieved the specified effect: The dots seem to drift on the leather goods, glistening here and there as if Kusama had just lifted her brush from each circle, the paint still wet.

Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama Keepall bag with hand-painted dots print.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

“The whole lot was done with extreme precision,” she stressed. “What’s amazing about working with artists is that they really push the boundaries… It makes us even higher and pushes also our boundaries.”

She motioned toward a photograph on the wall of a wonky, top-handle Vuitton handbag by architect Frank Gehry, one among six “iconoclasts” tapped for a 2014 collaboration.

“There’s not one straight line on that bag, so for the atelier, that was a brilliant big challenge,” she recalled.

Arnault described a large, companywide effort to understand the Kusama project, which involved every product department and the corporate’s supply-chain, industrial, design, marketing, retail, communications and visual merchandising teams. Kusama’s dots will even invade the brand’s dot-com business, with a short lived makeover slated for its online store.

Artistic collaborations stretch back greater than a century at Vuitton, to the founder’s grandson Gaston-Louis Vuitton, who conscripted artists and designers comparable to Pierre-Emile Legrain and Camille Cless-Brothier for products and windows within the ’20s and ’30s.

The pace picked up considerably in the course of the Marc Jacobs era from 1997 to 2013, when he invited Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince — and Kusama — to collaborate on capsule collections. In 2013, the blockbuster Murakami collaboration — which featured colourful versions of the monogram, some interspersed with eyeballs — was said to generate one-tenth of the brand’s revenues that 12 months.

When Kusama first met Jacobs, receiving him at her Tokyo studio in 2006, she presented the designer with a Vuitton Ellipse bag, whose monogram canvas she had painted over with dots. He invited her to collaborate on a line of garments and accessories in 2012, some decorated together with her tentacle-like “nerves” motif.

Lately Vuitton has also collaborated with Sol LeWitt and Jeff Koons, also inviting hosts of emerging and established contemporary artists to participate every 12 months in its Artycapucines project.

Vuitton’s “cultural dimension” reached one other zenith with the opening in 2014 of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, a non-public museum that has exhibited works by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Olafur Eliasson, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman and Egon Shiele.

More recently, Vuitton figured because the only luxury brand to mount a booth on the inaugural edition of the Paris+ by Art Basel fair to focus on its long-standing relationships with artists.

“I believe that Vuitton really has legitimacy in doing collaborations with artists, and it’s the brand most linked to culture,” Arnault asserted, characterizing them as a win-win.

While declining to debate numbers, Arnault said its collections done with artists are “extremely successful” commercially. On the flip side, artists “need to do it since it gives them access to a different public.”

“This collaboration goes to be in all our windows, it’s going to be in our promoting so it exposes their art to individuals who wouldn’t necessarily have been to a museum,” she explained.

Arnault noted that each one of Vuitton’s artistic collaborations find yourself becoming highly collectible, often accruing greater value on the resale market. They attract art collectors and clients who won’t be acquainted with the artists, but grow to be intrigued to learn more, she added.

For serious art aficionados, or partiers, 40 hard-sided Champagne trunks customized by Kusama’s studios are up for grabs at 400,000 euros each.

The print campaign, with its solid of models from various generations, is supposed to reflect that Kusama’s art appeals to everyone. Its tagline, “Creating Infinity,” nods to a key subject in Kusama’s work, and to Vuitton’s travel roots, dreamy storytelling and seemingly countless growth trajectory.

The visuals can even appear as billboards, on street furniture, 3D screens and banners in cities including Paris; London; Munich; Dubai; Recent York; Los Angeles; Tokyo; Seoul; Taipei, Taiwan; and Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen, China.

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