Japanese avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama puts her touch of imagination on timeless iconic silhouettes of the luxury Maison in a much awaited second collaboration.
When icons meet, magic happens. The creative exchange between Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton culminated in a charmed collaboration in 2012. It was then that the celebrated artist left her unique touch on one of the Maison’s most emblematic objects; she hand-painted a Louis Vuitton trunk with her characteristic polka dots signifying infinity. Replicating these signature dots with precision to the nearest millimetre – ensuring that the brushstrokes are intact in texture and weight – challenged and advanced the Maison’s savoir-faire. This pursuit of excellence and the desire to transmit this level of care in detail to the user, united the art of Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama.
A decade has passed since that iconic moment. Yet that unforgettable conversation revolving artistry and the mastery of craft has lived on and grown, resulting in an inventive second collection that not only stretches the imagination but also celebrates the great minds of Yayoi Kusama and the house of Louis Vuitton. From bags to menswear; womenswear to sunglasses; fragrances to shoes and accessories, the Maison’s emblematic pieces are seen through the transformative eye of Kusama. Launching in two parts, the first drop will land globally on 6 Jan, while the second drop is slated for end March this year.
Dots dominate the first drop in this awaited collaboration. Especially significant in Kusama’s work, dots have been a part of her art since the age of ten. Most recognisable and representative of Kusama’s work, the Infinity Dots collection takes the spotlight, encompassing most creations in this project. The infinity dot is the most obsessional motif of the self-described ‘obsessional artist’, a representation of a state of ‘self-obliteration’.
“My desire was to predict and measure the infinity of the unbounded universe, from my own position in it, with dots”
– Yayoi Kusama, ‘Infinity Net’
The Infinity Dots motif is presented in signature Kusama palettes of black and white, red and white, yellow and black, and also in black and red for men, on the a multiplicity of Louis Vuitton’s icons, such as the embossed Empreinte Neverfull and the Taurillon Capucines for women, and the classic Keepall and the Soft Trunk for men. Beyond the leather goods, the motif is also woven into jacquards and 3D knits, and printed onto silks or presented in embroideries in the ready-to-wear collection. It is even enamelled in the metal hardware on Academy loafers and echoed in infinity dotted jewellery. From head to toe, and beyond, the motif lives on – including on a Kusama version of the ‘Vivienne’ doll and on the fragrance Spell on You.
The next motif of Painted Dots, where her signature brush-stroked dots meet Louis Vuitton’s signature Monogram, is a direct translation of Kusama’s hand, achieved by a complex serigraphy technique and embossed printing on leather or iconic coated canvas. Whether it’s the colourful iteration of the dots true to the original artwork or a gradation of black, silver, grey and white specifically for the men’s collection, the playful meeting of the signature styles of artist and brand is a feast for the eyes. The choices are endless; wear the art on the Maison’s white Capucines and black Dauphine bags, or don a dotted Monogram down jacket paired with matching sneakers.
The Metal Dots collection takes things to a different level. This motif is inspired by Kusama’s mirrored orbs, a motif from her “Narcissus Garden”, and also spotted at the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966. Silver orbs of different sizes are set by hand with absolute precision, embedded in women’s black and silver leather goods -encircling a Cannes bag, proliferating on a soft Side Trunk, or featured on Academy loafers and on the counter of Squad hi-tops. The ‘60s futuristic’ theme is even more prominent when applied as a gradient to a silver biker jacket and a sharp silver leather mini dress.
Aside from Kusama’s universe of dots, you can also indulge in the ephemeral beauty of the artist’s other obsession in the Psychedelic Flower collection. Derived from her somewhat psychedelic Flower painting dating back to 1993, an exotic flower unfurls across accessories and ready-to-wear for men and women. Intricately realised in formal wear as a jacquard in wool tailored suiting and as a fil coupe in cotton shirting, it is also found embroidered on a more casual varsity blouson, and strikingly embellishes the Taurillon Monogram Bum Bag, Sac Plat and Keepall in the form of debossed printing on white leather. The enchanting motif is also presented on the Capucines bags, and magnified to cover the bags entirely in either black or red on Taurillon leather.
The mesmerising collection is the latest in Louis Vuitton’s long history of working with artists. Almost a century ago, the eponymous founder’s grandson and family aesthete, Gaston-Louis Vuitton, began commissioning artists to create store windows and works for the stores. More recently, since 1988, the Maison has collaborated with some of the biggest names in art and design including Sol LeWitt, Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons to break the boundaries of creativity and artistry.
Images courtesy of Louis Vuitton, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.