Louis Vuitton's first major artist collaboration since Takashi Murakami will debut in July on a pretty huge scale. In a partnership that has been a long time coming, LV's creative director Marc Jacobs brought on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama to put her recognizable stamp on a range of Vuitton clothes, accessories and leather goods.
Jacobs met Kusama, who is known for her painstakingly precise and bold dot prints, in 2006 when he visited her Tokyo studio during the filming of 2007 documentary Marc Jacobs Louis Vuitton. Jacobs has always been a fan of polka dots in his own designs and even named his latest fragrance "Dot." He described Kusam's motifs to WWD as "both timeless and endless."
The dots will feature heavily on two rounds of merchandise: First, a range of clothes and accessories including pajamas, trenchcoats and jewelry, will hit Vuitton stores starting July 10. Then, a range of monogram leather goods will debut in October.
Vuitton CEO Yves Carcelle's reasoning for the collab goes along--somewhat--with the company's recent efforts to retain high-end exclusivity. Hermes would probably never do a collaboration with a Japanese artist, but Carcelle says the partnership is fitting because Kusama's repetitive dots are similar to Vuitton's monogram print. The pieces will be available in limited quantities and are intended to become collector's items. Compared with the Murakami and Stephen Sprouse bags, these have more of a subtle look and thus may not be as easy to knock off.
However, if you can't afford one of the actual pieces, Vuitton is also launching an iPad app that allows you to take photos and then customize them with Kusama motifs. Cute! There will also be pop-up shops in department stores and "shocking" window displays.
The collab is timed to coincide with a retrospective on the artist, who is currently 82 and lives in a mental hospital (but still wears blue eyeshadow and has bright red hair), that starts July 12 at the Whitney. Click through for a first look at the collab and head to WWD for more. What do you think?