A JOURNEY IN … LOUIS VUITTON
The Latin term Luxus means excess and intemperance, but also grandeur and magnificence. This term carries with it an ambivalent meaning: positive in some ways, harmful in others. On the other hand, the concept of luxury is based on some notable characters such as exclusivity, qualitative excellence, refinement, and desirability. Today, among the most renowned brands that fully satisfy this notion, we find Louis Vuitton.
The French fashion house, founded in 1854, owes its success to the "trunk" bags, created during Vuitton's Parisian apprenticeship in a travel trunk factory. Over the years, the brand has become one of the most worshipped in the world. One of its peculiarities is to actively collaborate with artists and designers, reinventing a different style each time. In line with this strategy and on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the brand's foundation, in 1996, the brand invited six designers to create unique pieces celebrating the iconic "MONOGRAM" canvas. Following this collection's success, from 2000, the brand began a series of collaborations with stylists, architects, and artists such as Marc Jacobs, Stephen Sprouse, Frank O. Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Arata Isozaki, Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama, and Jeff Koons.
In 2019 the "Louis Vuitton X" exhibition was inaugurated in Los Angeles. In a two-story building on Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, the brand's art collections and some prêt-à-porter pieces by designers such as Marc Jacobs, Kim Jones, Nicolas Ghesquière, and Virgil Abloh were exhibited. Other exhibitions followed in New York, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, and Tokyo. In 2021 the brand landed in Tokyo with an exposition entitled "Louis Vuitton &," celebrating the 160th years of the brand and its strong bond with Japan.
The exhibition, located in the Jing building in Harajuku, consists of ten spaces that envelop and lead the visitor into the magical world of Louis Vuitton. From the entrance to the end, a creative and innovative atmosphere is perceived. The multimedia installation "CRITICAL POINT" by the artist Ryoji Ikeda welcomes visitors. Subsequently, a succession of rooms houses limited collections, historical trunks, perfumes, and artistic creations.
Fashion, a form of art, has been contaminated over the years with architecture, design, painting, music, and all the visual arts in general. One of the first examples of this art-fashion union dates back to the 1930s when the stylist Elsa Schiaparelli began collaborating with Salvator Dali and Alberto Giacometti. Louis Vuitton's iconic CAPUCINES bag - launched in 2013 - is a tangible example of this synergy. Trapezoidal in shape, with elegant and simple lines, combines contemporary art with craftsmanship experience, transforming an industrial product into a tailor-made and exclusive one. In the following years, the collection evolved, giving life to "THE ARTYCAPUCINES" in 2019. Six famous artists were invited to collaborate with the brand and created unique and limited pieces with advanced textile techniques and innovative materials.
The artist Sam Falls created an actual work of art by combining a jacquard fabric - a structured fabric with intricately woven motifs - with a high-definition print and hand stitching. Brightly colored Californian waves adorn the bag of artist Alex Israel. A curious detail draws attention: two fins emerging from the waves. Those fins contain a comb and a mirror ready for use, an example of how the function is intimately linked to aesthetics.
The collection was renewed in 2020 by inviting six more artists to collaborate with the brand. A sophisticated and elegant sculpture - created with screen printing, embossing, and 3D embroidery - covers the entire surface of the bag designed by Zhao Zhao. The five different types of laser-cut leather create an original and sophisticated puzzle. Finally, the artist Henry Taylor applied a painting on the leather. Through experiments with laser and 3D printing, he could reproduce the original brushstrokes and the perception of a sculptural bas-relief.
The ARTYCAPUCINES collection is proof of the unlimited expressive possibilities offered by the customization of an industrial product. The same happens with the creative explorations applied to the iconic "MONOGRAM" canvas that made the brand famous. For example, the Louis Vuitton logo's reinterpreted with POP colors, proposed by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The collaboration between the Japanese artist and the brand - which lasted for more than ten years - has generated a completely different brand perception. This reinterpretation of the classic brown hue with bright colors provided the French brand a new touch of enthusiasm and dynamism.
The different forms of artistic expression found a new meeting point in "ART ON SILK." Architects, artists, and designers confronted each other by working on figurative art's typical instrument: the painter's canvas. From Gae Aulenti to Philipp Starck, from Alberto Giacometti to Jeff Koons, the creatives were challenged on a two-dimensional surface. The Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, for example, worked on two styles of scarves. Using architectural drawing techniques, in "The Art of Architecture" he reproduced an aerial view of buildings and grounds and a three-dimensional view of one of his projects. Contemporary artist Jeff Koons, known for designing three-dimensional installations, proposed Vincent Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci's reproductions.
Sometimes fashion meets the furniture. Some innovative products, made during the brand's long history, are presented in the exhibition's first rooms. Here, trunks transformed to desks, chairs, or drawers suggest new flavors for traveling. From 1924 to today, Louis Vuitton continues to design smart and dynamic furniture to support travel. One of the most notable pieces is the chair designed in 2016 by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. The modular leather seat is stackable and offers three different functions: chaise longue, pouf, or armchair.
The exhibition - inaugurated on March 19th - is a natural source of inspiration. The setting fascinates the visitor with multicolored graphics, reflective displays, contrasts between light and dark, elegant walls used as displays, and a digital installation. Creativity, desire to get involved, search for new techniques and materials, trust in artists and designers: this generates the avant-gardism of one of the world's oldest brands.