Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama – it takes all kinds of opinions to make a world: collectable items, high fashion or kitsch ?

Yayoi Kusama is 83 years old this year. Her winter through to early summer exhibition toured major museums in selected european capitals such as the Pompidou centre in Paris, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, and the Tate Modern in London. Currently showing at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, they have all been supported by the fashion house Titan, Louis Vuitton. LV’s chief designer, Marc Jacobs, had previously collaborated with Richard Prince in 2007, with Takashi Murakami in 2003 and with Stephen Sprouse in 2001. Some believe he has unceremoniously given the Louis Vuitton collection a soulless quality, lacking unity or cohesion. A sort of non-directional picking from here and there ?

He met Yayoi Kusama in Tokyo in 2006 and it led to Louis Vuitton providing financial support for some of her late works as well as production of her exhibitions around the world. She influenced Marc Jacobs in his work – his newest fragrance is called Dot.
The last fruit of their collaboration is Louis Vuitton’s summer collection of fashion accessories Dots Infinity, presented almost at the same time in Paris (at Printemps Haussmann), London (at Selfridges), New York (in SoHo), but also in far east Vuitton stores such as Hong Kong’s Pacific Place, Ngee Ann City in Singapore and Isetan’s Shinjuku branch or Dover Street Market of Ginza in Tokyo. All window displays at the stores are created with Kusama’s direct input, and especially for the occasion, with titles as Beginning of The Universe (the Nerves) or Eternal Blooming Flowers in Mind.

An original merchandising concept was made in collaboration with the artist.
An invasion of dots throughout walls and floors. Some think of it as an event, whilst others are just happy to take photos of what seems to be like ‘Minnie Mouse’ funny fashion on a big scale.
If dots have played an important role in Yayoi Kusama’s work over the years, using it in fashion and accessories collections is nothing original, nor new. The first fashion wave on this theme was noted in 1854 in The Yale Literary Magazine, a fabric pattern of dots fashionable because of the popularity of dance, as traditionally these fabrics are used in the clothing of dancers and performers. Later on Polka Dots and Moonbeams was a popular song published in 1940 and it was Frank Sinatra’s first hit recorded with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. In summer 1960 Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini became a hit for many years to come. Polka dots seem to be a fashion phenomena that comes back every 20 years or so! It was fashionable again in the ’80 and then again in 2006.

Louis Vuitton has created also a variant for those not being enchanted by this style – monogrammed pieces based on Yayoi Kusama’s Biomorphic Nerves motif (dots again), sold en première at Selfridges, London from August 2012, then on general release in October.
The dots patterns on many products reinforce the pure commercial aspect and put a certain distance between itself and that of the luxury product Vuitton. This fashion collection becomes a monotone inspiration, reducing the universe of the artist.

The collaboration will extend to iPhone apps, websites and a book.
On the site www.louisvuittonkusama.com can be seen Marc Jacobs first encounter with Yayoi Kusama in 2006 in Tokyo. She showed him an Ellipse bag on which she made drawings. Who knows, probably it all started from there.


Photos by : Joana Coja