Louis Vuitton scores with Yayoi Kusama

French haute couture meets Japanese art. Right at the start of 2023, Louis Vuitton has launched a large-scale collaboration with Japan’s most famous artist Yayoi Kusama. The coveted canvas bags with the LV monogram are dotted with colorful round polka dots in the new collection. For Yayoi Kusama, dots are an expression of peace and infinity. Even her early works are characterized by the recurring patterns of polka dots. Back in 2012, there was a collaboration between the fashion house and the now 93-year-old artist. For the presentation of the new collection, even the Tokyo Tower glowed in colorful dots.

Advertisement in the Japanese daily newspaper Nikkei (Nihon Keizai Shimbun) for the collaboration between Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton in January 2023 © Photo: Noriko Hasegawa

Polka dots for peace?

For Yayoi Kusama, dots are an obsession. She suffered from hallucinations as a child. Kusama saw dot and net patterns and feared dissolving into them. The hallucinations became part of her art. As early as 1939, she made drawings in which she processed the patterns. In 1968, in protest at the Vietnam War, she wrote an open letter to then U.S. President Nixon: “Our earth is like a small polka dot among millions of other celestial bodies; a sphere full of hatred and strife in the midst of the peaceful, silent spheres.” The LV design with red, yellow, green, blue and white dots can be found in the new collection on accessories such as bags and scarves and on garments. To what extent the luxury brand’s new It-pieces serve world peace is questionable.

Werbeanzeige in der japanischen Tageszeitung Nikkei (Nihon Keizai Shimbun) zur Kollaboration zwischen Yayoi Kusama und Louis Vuitton im Januar 2023 © Foto: Noriko Hasegawa
Advertisement in the Japanese daily newspaper Nikkei (Nihon Keizai Shimbun) for the collaboration between Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton in January 2023 © Photo: Noriko Hasegawa

Creating infinity – even in advertising

Right at the start of the new year 2023, Louis Vuitton launched a veritable advertising barrage. With the slogan Creating Infin ity, the new Vuitton-Kusama collaboration was launched on a stretch of two double-page spreads, which also seems infinite in the advertising industry. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, or Nikkei for short, is Japan’s fourth largest daily newspaper with a circulation of 3 million and is not likely to be the only advertiser in the campaign. The first collaboration between Kusama and Vuitton in 2012 was dominated by red dots, and at the traditional Selfridges department store in London, a Kusama world was created in ten shop windows and on a special risiegen space. Previously, the Tate Modern in London dedicated a solo exhibition to the Japanese superstar.

Pumpkins with Polka Dots

Yayoi Kusama combines the polka dots of her early works with objects from nature. The pumpkin becomes an important motif for her polka-dotted installations and accordingly also appears in the Louis Vuitton campaign. A landmark of the art island of Naoshima in the Seto Inland Sea is the Yellow Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama. Since 1994, it has stood exposed on a jetty, directly on the sea and close to the Benesse Art Museums, which display world-class contemporary art.

Yellow Pumpkin von Yayoi Kusama. Der berühmtem gelbe Kürbis wurde 2021 von einem Taifun ins Meer gerissen. 2022 wurde an selber Stelle ein neues Exemplar aufgestellt / © Foto: Georg Berg
Yellow Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama. The famous yellow pumpkin was swept into the sea by a typhoon in 2021. In 2022, a new specimen was erected in the same place / © Photo: Angela Berg

Click here for the report on Yayoi Kusama – Art by the Sea

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The research took place during a press trip organized by JNTO.

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