Priestess of a total, hypnotic and colourful art, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is known throughout the world as an avant-garde artist. She is also one of the emblematic figures of the hippie years. True to her signature throughout the years, she applies her motifs ad infinitum, completely invading the space.
From her inauspicious beginnings in 1929, in Matsumoto, Japan, Kusama magically and determinedly transformed her own life. Spinning enchantment from the power of her art while on adventurous quests in the wider world in the 1950s and 1960s, from Tokyo to New York, she rescued herself in the process. She is the artist who has given a glimpse of the infinite in her artwork and, after what appeared as a hiatus to the outside world when she returned to Japan in the 1970s, she has emerged as perhaps the pre-eminent global artist of the 21st Century and certainly the most successful living, female artist.
The last time that Louis Vuitton met the magic of Yayoi Kusama was in 2012. Yet this relationship never ended –ten years after, it evolved, and expanded with conversations continued and extended. Louis Vuitton has a long history of working with artists, which can be traced back to almost a century ago when the eponymous founder’s grandson and family aesthete, Gaston-Louis Vuitton, began commissioning artists to create store windows and works for the stores themselves. This impetus has travelled through time and has had even more resonance in the contemporary era; since 1988, the Maison has invited some of the biggest names in art and design to collaborate including, Sol LeWitt, Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons among others. Here, Kusama’s talismanic objects, motifs and imaginings of infinity take-over the Maison and all of its product categories: from bags to menswear; womenswear to sunglasses; fragrances to shoes and accessories. In turn, there is an evolution of some of Louis Vuitton’s own emblematic pieces, making them equally part of their own and Kusama’s transformative world.
In line with Louis Vuitton’s past artistic collaborations, the encounter between the Maison and Yayoi Kusama is grounded in sincerity, in iconoclasm, and above all, in a mutual appreciation of craft and excellence over the commonplace. At Louis Vuitton, when it comes to the magic of making objects, anything is possible.
Perhaps it is most fitting that this incarnation of the Louis Vuitton and Kusama creative exchange starts where the 2012 conversation left off, with a gift. A gift that encompasses their two worlds most completely. In 2012, Yayoi Kusama took one of the most timeless and magical of the Maison’s emblematic objects and made it her own – she hand-painted a Louis Vuitton trunk with her characteristic polka dots, dots that, for Kusama, represent infinity.
It is an exact replica of these dots, a true representation of Kusama’s hand that is one of the many things in the project that has challenged and advanced the Maison’s savoir-faire. Each incarnation of the polka dots has been presided over by Kusama personally – as have all the many and varied objects in the project – being moved with precision to the nearest millimetre, brushstrokes echoed in uncanny detail with their texture and weight intact. It is in this pursuit of the infinite through craft that both Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama are ultimately united. It is in the making of magical objects that transcend space and time that both are engaged in and recognise each other through. It is here that both Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama want the person who possesses such objects to feel both the care and emotional investment it took to make them; to become part of their story and one that will hopefully become part of the story of future generations – stretching into infinity.
When does fashion go beyond fashion? Maybe when it’s made with eternity and infinity
in mind. In the project’s collections an idea of proliferation is paramount. The cascading
motifs, their qualities, and the notion of infinity mirrored in the collections’ expansiveness,
sweeping up the iconic pieces of the Maison and transforming them along the way, both
reflects Kusama’s process and themes while testing and furthering the limits of Louis Vuitton’s
savoir faire. And it is perhaps in the apotheosis of handcraft that the idea of the eternal
exists for both Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama.
At the same time, there is a notion of how the infinite can translate, of how it can reach
people, and be made to function in the everyday, of how it touches people and transforms
them. These are clothes and accessories after all, and it is a joyful participation through
wearing them that is always sought – this is something Kusama is no stranger to in her art
and Louis Vuitton understands through craft.
Encompassing both the universes of women and men through ready-to-wear, bags,
shoes, accessories, luggage and trunks and fragrances, these wide-ranging and intricate
collections appear in two parts, with distinct thematic directions reflecting Yayoi Kusama’s
motifs and motivations. Drop 1 will launch 1st of January 2023 in China and Japan,
followed by the rest of the world on 6th of January. Drop 2 will be available in Louis Vuitton
stores starting 31st March 2023.