As I wait with abated breath for the launch of Louis Vuitton’s latest artist collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama “Infinitely Kusama” this week, I got inspired to wear lots of dots, which is the signature motif of the artist.
Fashion x Contemporary Art
The Infinitely Kusama line follows the past highly-success collaborations which Louis Vuitton has done with Stephen Sprouse (graffiti), Takashi Murakami (smiling cherries and sakura blossoms) and Richard Prince (a joke – I’m serious, the LV bags were spray-painted with jokes printed on them). The line also coincides with the artist’s retrospective exhibition, Kusama at the Whitney Museum.
Such cross intersection of art, fashion and even music is getting increasingly common, as associating with art lends credibility and a more high-brow, exclusive image to the brand, as well as allows innovation with a new product line. For the consumer, they are buying accessibility to the art world which is high-end luxury, where a piece of artwork by the artist would normally be out of reach – and understanding – for them. As for the artist, this is seen as a way to reach out to the masses to gain more awareness to their artworks.
Yayoi Kusama, who celebrated her 83th birthday earlier this year, is a sculptor, painter, writer, installation artist and performance artist. The “High Priestess of Polka Dots” is known as the most expensive living Asian artist, and her diverse art is expressed mainly through the use of mere dots. Why dots? As a child, Kusama coped with the hallucinations she suffered from by painting polka dots. This motif has remained a central feature of her work, and expresses her feeling of revolving ‘in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space,’ and her view of herself as ‘a dot lost among a million other dots.’ She has also lived for forty years in the open ward of a mental hospital with her own art studio down the street.
Marc Jacobs’ first met Kusama in 2006, and the enchanting encounter set the path to collaborate on the current Louis Vuitton Kusama collaboration.
The Infinitely Kusama collection will consist of ready-to-wear (trenchcoats, silk payjamas), handbags, shoes and accessories (wristwatch, sunglasses, pendant necklace) adorned with the artist’s famous polka dots fashioned in a tentacle-like “nerves” motif. Think pop art meets luxury. The first wave of pieces (ready-to-wear and small accessories) will debut in stores on July 10 with a major handbag and accessories push coming in October. The collection’s bags are mainly classic Vuitton designs redone in Monogram Vernis leather printed with dots in contrasting colors. The collection is also reported to include wave prints.
Infinitely Pop-up Shops
The collection will be available in Vuitton’s 461 stores around the world, including a series of pop-up shops. The first pop-up shop will debut inside the Louis Vuitton Soho flagship in New York City on 10 July (today!). Other pop-ups inside or adjacent to LV boutiques will also include Ngee Ann City (13 July – yeah!) Singapore, LV Isetan Shinjuku in Tokyo, Dover Street Market in Ginza, Pacific Place in Hong Kong, LV Printemps flagship (23 Aug) in Paris and one of the biggest measuring over 1000 square feet in Selfridge’s (24 Aug) in London.
I’ll definitely pop by (pun intended) the Singapore store wearing surprise, surprise….polka dots :)
Brazil first country to get Infinitely Kusama
Brazil is not only the first country to launch the much-hyped collection; its Vogue Brazil is also the first medium to reveal the collection, with a pregnant Gisele Bundchen fronting the cover for its July issue.
Other interesting Kusama collaborations
Kusama has also previously done some interesting collaboration with other products, and these are two that caught my eye:
10 Things about Yayoi Kusama
1. Yayoi Kusama’s childhood in rural Japan was “like a nightmare”. Born in 1929 to an abusive mother, she experienced continual hallucinations throughout her childhood, and was prone to morbid obsessions. The first subjects to appear in Kusama’s earliest paintings from childhood were her mother, the sun, the moon, and clouds.
2. Kusama left Japan for New York City in 1958 and spent several years entrenched in the art scene; she exhibited with everyone from Donald Judd to Andy Warhol, and was friendly with Georgia O’Keeffe.
3. In the sixties, Kusama opened a boutique where she sold her own mod clothing designs, many of which were made from see-through materials. Nudity was common in much of her work at the time, and the shop included private studios where models would have their bodies painted and photographed.
4. In 1968, Kusama designed a bridal gown for two men to wear at their wedding, which took place at Kusama’s Church of Self-Obliteration and was directed by the artist herself, who had been dubbed the “High Priestess of Polka Dots.” Polka dots—which represent disease for Kusama—started appearing as motifs in her paintings around age 10; they are present in many of her works, including street performances that involved painting polka dots on nude men and women.
5. Kusama calls her work “psychosomatic,” and continually explores the themes of eternity, emptiness, hallucination, obsession, compulsion, accumulation, and repetition, among others. In her thirties, she focused in particular on entropy, sensuality, and femininity through a surrealist lens.
6. In addition to her autobiography, Infinity Net, Kusama has written eight novels and countless poems.
7. Throughout the late 1960s, Kusama staged over 200 “Happenings” in public spaces around New York City and throughout Europe. The performances included body painting festivals, fashion shows, orgies, and anti-war demonstrations. When she moved back to Japan, Kusama began staging performances on temple grounds in Tokyo—for one, she toilet-papered a graveyard.
8. In 1968, the artist launched Kusama Fashion Company Ltd., and sold her avant-garde clothing and accessory line in “Kusama Corner” at Bloomingdale’s in New York. She staged fashion shows in Rome, Paris, Belgium, and Germany.
9. Kusama moved back to Japan in 1973 to focus on her health and to pursue a more peaceful artistic lifestyle than New York City would allow. Since the mid-1970s, she has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital, and continues to create artwork in a studio nearby.
10. In order to create a body of work that she feels will leave an impact on future generations, Kusama would like to live to be at least 200 or 300 years old. As long as she has the energy to continue creating, she will carry on.
Source: Worn Fashion Journal