Louis Vuitton to Unveil Kusama Collaboration.


PARIS — When Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama first met Marc Jacobs, receiving him at her Tokyo studio in 2006, she presented the designer with a Louis Vuitton Ellipse bag, whose monogram canvas she had painted over with dots, the defining motif of her long career. “That’s so beautiful, look at that,” Jacobs exclaimed, twirling her handiwork for the camera of Loïc Prigent, who captured the encounter in his 2007 documentary “Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton.” Six years later, Kusama’s dots are on back on Vuitton leather goods — and this time on a global scale. On July 10, two days ahead of a major Kusama retrospective bowing at the Whitney Museum in New York, Vuitton will unveil a line of clothes and accessories done in collaboration with the artist. Ranging from trenchcoats and silk pajamas to a pendant necklace and wristwatch, the collection is due in Vuitton’s 461 stores in the days that follow the opening, with a second wave of products — hinged on monogram leather goods festooned with Kusama’s tentaclelike “nerves” motif — due out in October. Vuitton will also herald the collaboration via its windows — without any merchandise in sight. “In a fascinating way, the monogram canvas is as obsessional as Yayoi’s dots,” Yves Carcelle, Vuitton’s president and chief executive officer, mused during an exclusive interview to discuss the venture. He noted that the repetitive design, with the LV initials interspersed with stylized flowers, first debuted on trunks in 1896. Carcelle took pains to portray Vuitton’s latest artistic collaboration as a cultural initiative that will help animate its boutiques and burnish the brand, rather than a calculated effort to boost revenues. “It’s not to put products on shelves,” he stressed. The executive allowed that such ventures “tend to be a commercial success because of the strength of the artist and the strength of Vuitton. But the whole concept doesn’t start from a commercial point of view.”

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