Louis Vuitton is going dotty — on a global scale.
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Its most comprehensive collaboration The luxury giant has a great artist to date and is now rolling out ready-to wear, leather goods, accessories, and perfumes made in. collaboration Yayoikusama has dedicated campaigns, as well as a number 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. First products are expected to drop in Japan and China January 1, which is considered a prelaunch. Louis Vuitton Shops all over the globe on Jan.
Delphine Arnault, who as Vuitton’s executive vice president supervises all of its product-related activities, described the collaboration as a meeting of two like-minded design studios and workshops obsessed with perfection in concept, execution and craft.
Arnault, in an interview at Vuitton Headquarters in Paris with its stunning views of the Seine River said that the project took a year to complete. It was created and realized during the coronavirus pandemic via Zoom file-sharing technology and Zoom File-sharing Technology linking Tokyo and Paris, where the 93 years-old artist is located.
“One of the aspects of her work is happiness, and we thought it would 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 latest hookup last May, when Nicolas Ghesquière, the brand’s artistic director of women’s collections, accessorized some of his cruise 2023 outfits with polka-dot handbags.
In recent weeks, the pace has slowed down. Tokyo tookover included landmarks like the Tokyo Tower, Zojoji temple and Tokyo Station with augmented reality activations and physical installations.
“The reaction was amazing,” Arnault enthused.
Indeed, an Instagram post of the anamorphic billboard Vuitton installed in Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku district has racked up more than 10 million views. The picture shows Kusama, a Vuitton trunk decorated in animated fruit and his friends.
Meanwhile, other posts on Instagram, where Vuitton counts more than 50 million followers, have shown Kusama handing spotted gourds to Dutch model Rianne Van Rompaey, one of the campaign faces, who also appears to be standing on top of the artist’s signature bright-red bob hairstyle.
Arnault suggested that there might be other takeovers across the city in Paris, London, and New York next year. “It’s really important to communicate globally, but also do work locally,” she said, promising “some surprises” in different parts of each city, along with pop-ups, pop-ins, augmented reality features and even a gaming app.
A second drop of products is planned for March 31, and will be supported by another ad-campaign that is still being developed.
Kusama is most well-known for her obsession with polka dots. She has been painting them since she was 10 years old and they can be found on canvases, tree trunks and entire rooms. people. She is also a skilled artist in soft sculptures, collages, and performance art.
Known for her exacting approach — each dot in her “infinity” paintings is painstakingly placed — Kusama is a prolific artist who has had a hand in the conceptual, feminist, minimalist, surrealist, pop and abstract art movements since her first appearance on the scene in the 1950s.
Arnault described Kusama among the most prominent female artists today and one of Japan’s most important artists.
“It’s a very inclusive art,” she said. “It speaks to everyone — it can speak to a child; it can speak to an intellectual. It’s not too hard to understand, although it’s very complex.”
Huge lines form whenever museums feature one of Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror Rooms,” which allow viewers to gaze upon endless reflections of colorful lights.
Arnault marveled that Kusama’s art has been so prescient of today’s appetite for immersive experiences, and works that are so irresistibly Instagrammable and shareable.
The Vuitton collaboration encompasses Kusama’s “infinity dots” and metal dots, first introduced in 1966, along with floral and pumpkin motifs.
Arnault pulled out a Capucine bag made of leather, which is the most expensive item in the range, at 8,800 Euros, and a small Alma canvas bag. Each of these bags was covered with irregularly shaped, colorful dots.
“We have a sense for perfection, for detail, for creativity, for innovation, and we felt that the studio of Mrs. Kusama was speaking the same language,” Arnault explained, a smile spreading over her face. “She has an obsession with the dot. And we have 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 become one of 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 many trials, they finally achieved the desired effect. The dots appear floating on the leather goods, as if Kusama had just removed each circle of paint with her brush, leaving the paint still wet.
“Everything 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 better and pushes also our boundaries.”
She motioned toward a photo on the wall of a wonky, top-handle Vuitton handbag by architect Frank Gehry, one of six “iconoclasts” tapped for a 2014 collaboration.
“There’s not one straight line on that bag, so for the atelier, that was a super big challenge,” she recalled.
Arnault described a massive, companywide effort to realize the Kusama project, which involved every product department and the company’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 temporary makeover slated for its online store.
Artistic collaborations stretch back more than a century at Vuitton, to the founder’s grandson Gaston-Louis Vuitton, who conscripted artists and designers such as Pierre-Emile Legrain and Camille Cless-Brothier for products and windows in the ’20s and ’30s.
The pace picked up considerably during 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 colorful versions of the monogram, some interspersed with eyeballs — was said to generate one-tenth of the brand’s revenues that year.
Kusama presented Jacobs with a Vuitton Ellipse bag when she first met him in Tokyo. She had covered the monogram canvas with dots and painted it over. He invited her to collaborate on a line of clothes and accessories in 2012, some decorated with her tentacle-like “nerves” motif.
Vuitton has collaborated with Sol LeWitt in recent years, as well as Jeff Koons. The Artycapucines project also invites a host of contemporary artists to participate every year.
Vuitton’s “cultural dimension” reached another zenith with the opening in 2014 of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, a private museum that has exhibited works by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Olafur Eliasson, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman and Egon Shiele.
Vuitton was the first luxury brand to exhibit a booth at Paris+ by Art Basel’s inaugural edition to showcase its long-standing relationships and friendships with artists.
“I think 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 discuss numbers, Arnault said its collections done with artists are “extremely successful” commercially. On the flip side, artists “want to do it because it gives them access to another public.”
“This collaboration is going to be in all our windows, it’s going to be in our advertising so it exposes their art to people who would not necessarily have been to a museum,” she explained.
Arnault noted that all of Vuitton’s artistic collaborations end up becoming highly collectible, often accruing greater value on the resale market. She explained that they attract clients and art collectors who may not be familiar with the artists but are intrigued to learn more.
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 cast of models from various generations, is meant 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 endless growth trajectory.
The visuals can also be seen on billboards, as street furniture, 3D screens, and banners in cities such as Paris, London; Munich, Dubai; New York; Los Angeles and Tokyo.
Launch Gallery Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama Collaboration