A decade after the artist’s first collaboration with the luxury brand, Yayoi Kusama’s iconic polka dots decorate Vuitton’s clothing, accessories, and even buildings in a collection that has the world buzzing.
Louis Vuitton is one of the most recognisable and coveted designer brands, while Kusama’s art has skyrocketed in public renown over the past decade. This meeting of two unforgettable legacies has taken over the internet – not to mention Harrods, which has been transformed into a polka-dotted art installation!
But before we get to the collab, does anyone need a primer on the major players? (It’s okay if you do!).
Best known by the general public as the artist behind the unbelievably Instagrammable infinity rooms, Kusama’s dotty motif is instantly recognisable – but there’s more to her work and her life than meets the public eye.
Kusama was born in Japan in 1929 and moved to New York in 1957 to develop her (already successful) career as an artist. Her very traditional family didn’t support her choice of career, but for Kusama, art wasn’t a choice – it was a way of being, as well as a way to deal with the hallucinations that had affected her since childhood. She turned these visions into artworks, making her mental state and her art completely inextricable.
By translating hallucinations and fear of hallucinations into paintings, I have been trying to cure my disease.
Now 93 years old, Yayoi Kusama has had a career spanning seven decades, and she shows no signs of slowing down. She continues to paint every single day, living in the psychiatric hospital she admitted herself to in 1977.
Even if you’re not at all into fashion, chances are you’ve heard of Louis Vuitton. As one of the world’s most popular and most successful designer brands, they stand at the forefront of luxury – particularly when it comes to bags, which is where the brand began in 1854.
Having made a name through crafting trunks and suitcases, Vuitton is now known for much more, with the iconic LV monogram adorning apparel, jewellery, perfumes, and more. In essence, Louis Vuitton is synonymous with quality craftmanship and has been since its founding, which is why the brand’s products and reputation have remained so popular over time.
So, what does it look like when two infamous, iconic aesthetics join forces? In a word: extravagant.
From the Louis Vuitton Champs-Élysées store to a pop-up in Tokyo’s Harajuku district, Vuitton stores have been transformed into displays of Kusama’s polka-dot motif – with many including robotic or sculptural representations of the artist herself. This is most striking in Paris, where an oversized replica of Kusama leans over the Champs-Élysées building in the process of painting dots across the façade.
Exteriors, interiors, and buyable stock have all been Kusama-fied: bags, denim, bracelets, and more are all available with a Yayoi Kusama twist. Whether you’re a fan of her multi-coloured polka dots, monochromatic infinity dots, reflective chrome orbs, or psychedelic flowers, there’s a collector’s (or wearable) piece for you that combines iconic Louis Vuitton designs with the dotty artworks.
Even the venerable, nearly 200-year-old Harrods department store in London has been transformed, with the Louis Vuitton brand projecting Kusama imagery across the building’s frontage. A 50-foot statue of Yayoi Kusama ‘paints’ the exterior, just like in Paris, and holds a Louis Vuitton bag to really emphasise the collaboration.
While the campaign and the collection have seen its detractors, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive as consumers take in the fusion of two of the art and design world’s greatest icons. Yayoi Kusama, who currently has a retrospective exhibition underway in Hong Kong, is a living legend, so her second collab with Louis Vuitton – another giant – is sure to be a success.
If you liked this article, you might like our feature about the NGV’s Alexander McQueen exhibit, on now until April 16, 2023.