Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama Team Up For New Collection

Bullet Shih Jul, 2012 0
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Artdaily.org has reported that Marc Jacobs the creative director for Louis Vuitton and eccentric Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama have teamed up to launched a new collection based on her trademark polka dots. Louis Vuitton, facing a younger generation of buyers who find their parents’ traditional Louis Vuitton brown and gold logo a little staid coupled with declining Japanese sales which have traditionally been a source of strength has decided to modernize its line.  Kusama who was born in Japan and moved to New York City in the 60s is currently known for her obession with polka dots and recently have a much acclaimed piece which consisted of a room being entirely plastered with red polka dots.  Artdaily.com writes,

The dots cover shoes, handbags, shirts, skirts and sunglasses, among other items.
Jacobs met Kusama in 2006. He is an avid art collector and was a fan of Kusama’s sculptures and paintings. “The obsessive character and the innocence of her artwork touch me,” Jacobs said. In honor of the new products, Louis Vuitton created a splashy display for the brand’s flagship Manhattan store on Fifth Avenue that pays homage to three Kusama motifs: “Beginning of the Universe,” ”Eternal Blooming Flowers in My Mind” and “Self-Obliteration.” The building facade is wrapped in a pattern of dots.
The timing of the product launch and building installation coincides with the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new exhibition of Kusama’s work.

However, in the 60s Kusama was a far cry from what many would now associate with he staunchy Louis Vuitton image or even the fashion industry for that matter by living in artistic poverty, embracing an anti-capitalist ethos, and expressing an almost manic obsession with sex.  The FT writes an excellent background article stating,

Around this time, she began to stage “naked happenings”. It was perhaps the height of her fame, but a low point in her reputation. Bands of Kusama followers, whom she recruited through newspaper advertisements, would descend on a public place such as the New York Stock Exchange. There they would disrobe and cavort around to the sound of bongo drums, while Kusama, the Japanese sorceress, would daub polka dots on their naked bodies. They were called orgies, though the amount of actual sex that went on may have been minimal. Certainly, Kusama herself, still revolted by the male organ, never took part. Most of the happenings were, in any case, quickly curtailed by the police. One of the events – a sort of psychedelic pre-configuration of Occupy Wall Street – took place in the famous New York financial district. Kusama issued a press release in which she suggested, in capital letters naturally, that her aim was to “OBLITERATE WALL STREET MEN WITH POLKA DOTS.” In this, as in many things, she was ahead of her time.

There followed a series of stunts designed to create the maximum publicity. In one, she wrote an open letter to Richard Nixon offering to have sex with him if he would stop the Vietnam war. “Let’s forget ourselves, dearest Richard,” she wrote, “and become one with the Absolute, all together in the altogether.” Nixon turned her down. Still, for a brief period she was more written about than Andy Warhol, appearing on the front page of the New York Daily News, and launching her own (short-lived) magazine, Kusama Orgy.

Funnily enough, polka dots can also be closely associated with Marc Jacobs who spent most of the 80s closely associated with New York based designer Perry Ellis winning the Perry Ellis Gold Thimble award while still at Parsons in 1984 and the CFDA’s Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent in 1988 before finally joining the Perry Ellis line. During the 80s Perry Ellis was well known for his polka dot motifs which adorned averything from neck ties to men’s underwear.

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