Louis Vuitton takes on Yayoi Kusama's surreal polka dots
Louis Vuitton is set to unveil its latest artist collaboration next week and sure enough Marc Jacobs has managed to marry good taste with high art. For this latest turn, Yayoi Kusama’s surreal use of polka dots will be featured as a capsule collection scheduled to launch in two phases between July 10 and October. The first launch will be an array of limited-edition clothing and accessories such as pajamas, a trench coat, separates and jewelry that will coincide with a retrospective of Kusama’s work at the Whitney Museum of American Art opening July 12, as well as the exhibition already on view at London’s Tate Modern.
Marc’s proclivity for the more ephemeral and cerebral art has resulted in serious revenue for Louis Vuitton’s parent company (LVMH), creating highly coveted accessories that become the status signifier du moment. In the past, unions like this have had successful lives outside the seasons they were debuted. Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti-inspired handwriting boldly canvassed already monogrammed accessories, taking the idea of logomania to a whole other level of excess and luxury, and they’ve been a staple in many a woman’s arsenal for years now. Similarly, Takashi Murakami’s use of Technicolor and ultra-happy faces, along with cherry blossoms and the actual fruit prints have graced the arms of debutantes uptown, as well as the entrepreneurial set on the other side of the tracks. And Richard Prince’s nurse series and clever, if not debasing, quips were the literary world’s dream on a publishing world’s pay scale — after all, Louis Vuitton is not a brand that goes on sale. Ever. Naturally these pieces are coveted all over eBay and auction sites of the like.
Kusama has distilled her ideas down to the essence of a solid dot, as a circle has no edges and therefore no end point. It’s infinite and unendingly adaptable and applicable to various mediums. In the swinging ’60s, she painted polka dots onto nude volunteers at art “happenings” and has since created entire environments where viewers can completely immerse themselves, like Fireflies on the Water — possibly one of the most beautiful examples of the lucid world Ms. Kusama invites us all to inhabit, as a sort of permanent vacation.
Where fashion and art have always been two sides of the same coin, the marriages that Marc officiates on behalf of Vuitton and his eponymous line add a contemplative dimension to material culture usually reserved for the more rarefied gallery world and art history doctorate candidates. Going one step further this time, LV has released an app that will allow you to take pictures where the subjects are covered in dots or waves à la Kusama. Consider it a primer tool. It isn’t guaranteed that every owner of a Louis Vuitton Kusama piece is going to perceive the world from a more surreal standpoint, but this season they will at least look the part.