Earlier this year we dropped the news of Louis Vuitton’s upcoming collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. With LV artistic director Marc Jacob’s knack for brilliantly successful collabs paired with Kusama’s awe-inspiring dots motif—we expect the resulting products to be a major hit. As new details are revealed and the collection’s debut nears, turns out our predictions were, well, spot on!
Following the Kusama retrospectives in renowned museums—the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Tate Modern in London—the artist’s work will appear at New York’s Whitney Museum in July coinciding with the collaboration’s debut. July 10th is slated for the first wave of Kusama-fied Louis Vuitton products to be released. Soon after, the brand’s 461 stores will be stocking the merchandise, which will include clothing and accessories from trench coats to silk pajamas, pendants to wristwatches. Following in October will be the launch of Vuitton signature monogrammed leather goods decorated with Kusama’s tentacle-like ‘nerve’ motif. “It’s really charming. It has the essence of the spirit of her work,” Jacobs said of the collaboration, describing Vuitton’s monogram and Kusama’s spots as “both timeless and endless.”
As you can see, this is not your typical, revenue boosting, designer brand/artist collaboration as LV president and CEO Yves Carcelle is quick to dispel. Instead, he stresses, the objective of the collaboration is a spark of cultural initiative rather than a ploy for commercial gain. Carcelle also acknowledges many of the commonalities between the Louis Vuitton brand and artist Yayoi Kusama. “In a fascinating way, the monogram canvas is as obsessional as Yayoi’s dots,” he observes in an interview with WWD. The two share a bond as great as their traveled heritage; both are globally celebrated for timeless, iconic designs. Vuitton will welcome the artistic initiative with exciting twists on product marketing. The store windows will be decorated—sans merchandise—with window displays to rival the renowned exhibitions. There is also talk of pop-up shops in select department and specialty stores. Most excitingly, LV plans to launch an iPhone app in June, again with the focus on Kusama’s art rather than the products. The free app will allow users to take and customize pictures in Kusama motifs and share them on social media platforms and dedicated site louisvuittonkusama.com.
Not only is Louis Vuitton going to great lengths to celebrate the shared venture, this collaboration has been a long time coming. To refresh your memory, Jacob’s met Kusama back in 2006 when the artist, now 82, welcomed him to her studio in Japan and presented a LV Ellipse bag covered in her signature spotted design. Jacobs instantly took to her aesthetic and the two shared similar passions as captured in Loic Prigent’s documentary Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton. Six years later and with global buzz surrounding the artist, it seems all has aligned for the upcoming debut, which of course, will be offered in limited quantities. “We prefer for them to become collector’s items,” says Carcelle to WWD, “Years after, people are so excited to have these bags.”