"Louis Vuitton - A Journey Through Time" by Razzia, Assini-Thomson Collection, Co-Founders of Addicted Art Gallery
There can be few more prestigious international luxury brands than Louis Vuitton (LV), which was established by the French designer of that name in the mid-19th century. LV has not relented since its inception in using the greatest creative talent in the production of its extensive range of desirable goods.
However, the LV of recent decades has not depended solely on its in-house designers to give its collections a fresh injection of cool, as demonstrated by its many collaborations down the years with key figures of the art world.
Razzia – The Poster Man
One of the original collaborators, and quite possibly the best, was French poster artist Razzia. His visual style evokes the golden age of posters proving the perfect match for LV's brand image, and its wish to promote special events it sponsors such as the Louis Vuitton Cup and Concours d'Elegance of automobile.
Razzia's posters are still conceived from an original painting, which has helped to set LV's visual identity apart from rivals using more ubiquitous modern computer-generated images. LV's association with Razzia began in the 1980s and continues to this day.
Yayoi Kusama – The Dotty One
LV's linkups with artists have only intensified since the 1980s. Its decision to work with iconic Japanese pop artist Yayoi Kusama - a former influence on Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg - proving another inspired one.
The label's Yayoi Kusama collection was finally unveiled in 2012, and showcased the artist's signature bold spots across an assortment of vibrant and playful bags, dresses, trousers, trench coats, silk scarves and other items. The then-LV creative director, Marc Jacobs, paid tribute to the veteran painter's "endless energy" and ability to create a "world that never ends".
Takashi Murakami – Flower Power
A celebrated artist, Murakami’s first collaboration with LV in the early 2000s, yielded the Murakami Multicolore Monogram collection. It was embraced by celebrities the world over - and counterfeited in huge volume – a testament to the popularity of this dynamic duo.
It was a partnership criticised by some for its commercialism - the artist opening a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2007 that was effectively a 1,000-square-foot pop-up store selling US$960 LV handbags, leading the art critic Dave Hickey to bemoan the museum's transformation into "a sort of upscale Macy's".
However, that was also perhaps a juxtaposition entirely befitting an artist who has long been known to blur the line between the 'high' and 'low' arts, the commercial and the academic. LV announced the end of its relationship with Murakami in 2015.
The French-Tunisian street artist's distinctive 'calligraffiti' - which combines the look of traditional Arabic calligraphy with a more modern graffiti style - attracted admiration from a perhaps unlikely source when he collaborated with LV in 2013.
The result was an unmistakable 'calligraffiti' monogram scarf, created as part of the Foulards d'Artiste project, which made the artist the first Arab to ever design a collaborative product for the iconic fashion house. As the man himself observed: "We're a farmer family, it's a great achievement and I'm proud of that."
With other artistic collaborators down the years such as Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince to its credit, Louis Vuitton could hardly be accused of failing to acknowledge external creative influences - instead, it positively embraces them. May such associations between art and fashion continue, for here at Addicted Art Gallery, we really are "loving the Louis"!