Artist collaborations may have proliferated across every tier and corner of the fashion industry today, but Louis Vuitton’s remains in a category of its own. The house is a true original when it comes to pioneering the modern art-fashion collaboration. Of his many masterstrokes at the brand, Marc Jacobs (who was creative director from 1997 to 2014) engineered incredible collaborations with some of the most exciting contemporary artists of the time. After sold-out, museum-worthy successes partnering with the likes of Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince, Jacobs followed up with a blockbuster collaboration with Yayoi Kusama, the famously reclusive Japanese art titan.
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In 2012, Jacobs gifted Kusama a classic Louis Vuitton trunk, on which she painted her signature polka-dots. And thus, the seeds for one of fashion’s most iconic collaborations were planted. The now-93-year-old artist, whose work over the course of seven decades and counting has spanned a diverse range of mediums from installation, sculpture and painting to video and performance art, fiction and poetry, translated her singular aesthetic blend of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Surrealism into a line of kaleidoscopic clothing and accessories. The collaboration offered the artist known for her Infinity Rooms and polka-dotted pumpkins a new outlet to explore her fascination with the infinite and the idea of self-obliteration (through obsessive repetition of a single motif).
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Now, a little more than 10 years after that initial outing, Louis Vuitton has brought Kusama back for round two. While the first collection honed in on womenswear and classic Louis Vuitton bags such as the Keepall, Neverfull and Speedy, the focus of the 2023 iteration has been expanded to include both menswear and womenswear in every product category—there’s clothing and bags and shoes, luggage and trunks, sunglasses and accessories, and fragrances complete with matching cases. Every polka dot in the capsule has been personally checked and approved by Kusama down to the millimetre; even the brushstrokes, with their “wet” textures intact, had to pass the Kusama test. The precision of Kusama’s process has pushed the savoir-faire of the Louis Vuitton ateliers past their usual limits.
The new Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama collection will be launched in two drops. The first hits stores on 6th January and consists of four sub-groups—Painted Dots, Metal Dots, Infinity Dots and Psychedelic Flower pieces. The Painted Dots are one of Kusama’s longest-running motifs—one she has constantly revisited since she was 10—and in this new capsule, they show up in the bright psychedelic colours of her artwork, as well as in a gradient black, silver, grey and white exclusive to the men’s collection. The Metal Dots motif is a nod to her installation of mirrored orbs at the 1966 Venice Biennale, while the Psychedelic Flower is lifted from a 1993 painting. But it is perhaps the Infinity Dots for which Kusama is most well known. Louis Vuitton has created pieces in four colourways: black and white, red and white, yellow and black, and red and black. Some of them have even been merged with the house’s distinctive monogram in an epic meeting of iconographies.
On the ready-to-wear front, the womenswear reflects Nicolas Ghesquiere’s visual affinity for the Space Age as well as the period in which Kusama burst onto the international art scene. There is a distinct Sixties futuristic flavour in the zippy, dynamic pieces with their sleek, sharp lines. These ranged from the Painted Dots pyjama suits, tailoring and printed denim to the Metal Dots biker jacket and leather minidress. Other standouts include the Infinity Dots printed skirt suit and the Psychedelic Flower jacquard wrap skirt. Meanwhile, the menswear carries a distinct Virgil Abloh inflection—think a relaxed, elevated mix of smartly proportioned sportswear and suiting. While we wait to see what the second drop on 31st March brings, here is our pick of the 20 most delightful objects from the new Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama collection.