Louis Vuitton: Carte Blanche III

by Pearlyn Quan

Louis Vuitton’s iconic Artycapucines bag serves as the most luxurious blank canvas for six new leading contemporary artists.

A lurid fever dream of Van Gogh’s self-portrait brought to life with over 700,000 embroidery stitches. A stark monochrome “painting” splashed across screen-printed leather and vinyl. A tiger sprawled amongst teacups rendered in complex leather marquetry and gold-leaf gilding.

These are just a few examples of the rich, experimental and sometimes surreal quality of Louis Vuitton’s iconic Artycapucines series, which offers the iconic Capucines bag as a vehicle of pure expression to six acclaimed artists. Since its launch in 2019, there have been 18 distinctive designs from celebrated artists including Henry Taylor, Beatriz Milhazes, Urs Fischer, and Tschabalala Self, and they run the gamut from breathtakingly beautiful to fluffy, distressed and downright radical.

After all, the Louis Vuitton Artycapucines bag is a way to not just own a piece of original artwork, but also wear it on your arm. Delphine Arnault, executive vice president in charge of supervising all of Vuitton’s product-related activities, has described the collection as something truly special that combines the artist’s universe with Louis Vuitton’s exceptional savoir faire.

After the first two Artycapucines chapters, the six new bags attest to the collection’s ability to blend the beauty and creativity of the artists’ talent with the ingenuity and absolute craftmanship of the House’s skilled artisans.

If a mainstay Capucines bag requires over 250 individual artisanal processes, how much more so a bespoke rendering of a piece of original art on an Artycapucines bag? Handcrafted using painstakingly meticulous techniques, each of the Artycapucines bags are only available in a limited edition of 200, and are often completely sold out in no time at all.

Icon Status

It’s only been eight years since it was first launched with the Fall/Winter 2013 collection, but the Capucines bag has already established its iconic status as a modern classic. It was first debuted by celebrity of the moment Angelina Jolie, carrying a distinctively minimalist looking LV bag in a sleek black get-up – and this was quickly followed by everyone you should know about, from supermodel Gigi Hadid to Princess Charlene of Monaco. So much so that Louis Vuitton boutiques across Europe were reporting shortages and long waiting lists.

Probably supplanting the monogrammed Speedy as Louis Vuitton’s most recognisable piece of arm candy, the Capucines is a tribute to the storied history of the French maison, and is named after the Rue des Capucines in Paris, the street on which Louis Vuitton first opened his shop in 1854.

Architectural with a distinctive trapezoid base, the Capucines is constructed using full-grain Taurillon calf-leather, which comes from the precious top layer (or “fleur”) of a hide. The skin is subjected to only minimal processing and is known for its quality, durability and signature plush texture, which we guarantee you’ll be able to identify with your eyes closed.

Available in three sizes – Mini, BB and MM – the Capucines is beloved for its clever design sensibility incorporating practical compartments and various different ways of wear with detachable bandolier-style straps. The LV initials are deliciously sleek and can also be hidden by a cut-out flap featuring the iconic monogram flower as a quatrefoil clover petal.

And as if it couldn’t get any better, there are new iterations of the bag every season in a wide variety of colourways which range from single vibrant hues to tri-colour styles with vaporwave gradients. The feel is always thoroughly contemporary and in-the-know, perfectly suited to any occasion and style that demands that little bit of luxury.

Chapter 3 of Artycapucines

For this third chapter in the Artycapucines series, Louis Vuitton has once again invited six artists – Gregor Hildebrandt, Donna Huanca, Huang Yuxing, Vik Muniz, Paola Pivi, and Zeng Fanzhi – to transform the blank canvas of the iconic bag.

Berlin-based Gregor Hildebrandt is known for using vinyl records, and audio and video tape to create minimalist, yet romantic collages, paintings, sculptures, and installations. The design for Hildebrant’s Capucines showcases his love of vinyl records and his trademark “rip-off” technique that uses magnetic dust from old recording tape to create striking black-and-white images.

Born in Chicago, Donna Huanca grew up in the United States and Bolivia, and has a deep interest in the possibilities of the body and skin as artistic media. Huanca constructs what she calls “visceral experiences” encompassing painting, sculpture, video, sound, and scent. Huanca’s Capucines design is based on Cara de Fuego and MuyalJol, two paintings that explore interactions with the female body.

Beijing-born Huang Yuxing is a painter whose striking oeuvre brings together meticulous technique and delicate traditional Chinese gongbi painting with strikingly bold colours and fantastical visions. Huang’s design for Capucines is based on a specially reworked version of his 2019 painting The Colossus Hidden Deep in the Hills, featuring a stylised landscape, with his signature oval shape, printed onto white-grey leather and embroidery to depict rainbow-like mountains.

Italian multimedia artist Paola Pivi challenges audiences to see the world anew by altering the scale, position or situation of common objects – from espresso coffee cups to helicopters – and uses them in novel ways. Pivi’s Capucines design is inspired by her 2007 work One Cup of Cappuccino Then I Go, with a striking leopard richly embroidered onto smooth leather, and overprinted to create a plush fur-like look.

Over his 30-year career, Brazilian artist Vik Muniz has worked in sculpture, photography, drawing and film, often using found materials, including chocolate, toys, magazines, scrap metal, soil, and pigments, to recreate images from art history and popular culture. Inspired by his 2019 series Quasi Tutto, Vik Muniz’s Capucines charms with its playful trompe-l’œil effect.

Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi’s work is a unique synthesis of Chinese and Western traditions evoked in a constantly evolving, always powerful painting style of strong, richly textured brushstrokes. Zeng’s Capucines is based on a dramatic reinterpretation of a self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh that he originally created in 2017. The complex design faithfully renders the artist’s highly worked brushstrokes and layering of paint in threads of 42 different colours and over 700,000 embroidery stitches.

Each bag in the third Artycapucines Collection will be available in a limited edition of 200 and released in stores worldwide at the end of October 2021.

Images courtesy of Louis Vuitton, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.

Related Links:

Louis Vuitton: The ArtyCapucines Collection

Louis Vuitton: Event Horizon

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