The artists with whom Louis Vuitton does its not infrequent tie-ups are always a very personal choice by designer Marc Jacobs – people whose work he admires and whom he has often got to know before asking them to work with him. The dizzying patterns and spots used for paintings and sculpture by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who is now in her 80s, had long fascinated him as a collector and after they met in 2006 the idea of putting her spots and almost Op Art “nerve” patterns on a huge range of Vuitton clothes and accessories came into being. The company also sponsored her retrospective at Tate Modern earlier this year.
Since mid-July Kusama's multisized polka dots, in monochrome, red or yellow, have bloomed on everything Vuitton, from dresses, trousers and shoes to bikinis, bangles and bags, in one of the company’s most successful collaborations. But they are only half the story. On August 24, the more complex “nerve” pattern arrives, in small-run trouser suits and coats or overprinted on the house logo motif on bags, clothes and scarves. In addition to the brand’s flagships there will be a pop-up for these pieces at Selfridges, in the Concept Store exhibition space, which runs until October 19.
Star of this is the handmade Pumpkin minaudière (pictured), of which only five have been made. Shaped like one of Kusama’s signature artworks, it is made of brass in two asymmetric halves, hollowed out in a three-day process and pierced with 7,500 holes. It is all coated in black resin and left to dry for a week, before being hollowed out again to achieve a 2mm layer of resin inside, flush with the metal on the outside. It is then polished to smooth perfection, the metal plated in gold and then polished again, before the two halves are assembled and inside lined with one piece of black lambskin, with central pockets. A great deal of work and a price tag to match – £83,500.