Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Vuitton in Technicolor

I originally wrote this in Oct. 11, 2007, and it was posted in a different blog called the Newbury Diaries, but since I have decided to retire that blog and start anew, here I am. However, since this was my fave entry from last year, I am re-posting below. Enjoy, and can't wait to keep writing!

It's no secret that bags are the big revenue generator for Louis Vuitton. While the classics bring patrons back, it's the shock value that bring LV free publicity. So for Spring 2008, in what appears to be free reign over the collection despite the bottom-line, Marc Jacobs went ballistic, and in collaboration with artist Richard Prince, devised the most insane line that I've ever seen Jacobs do. They have really pushed the boundaries between commercialism and art.

To start off, the palette was inspired by SpongeBob SquarePants. What you end up with is a very nonsensical but uniform array of neon and acid colors, where some bags appear to have been spray-painted on, others imprinted with text, and in some cases, there is a Warholian effect with the color inverse of the famous LV logos and flowers.

The show itself was a very straight-forward inspiration from Prince's work. Models dressed as nurses were inspired by Prince's Nurse paintings.

The colors of SpongeBob permeate the line of clothing, starting with the bright yellows, melding in with the soft dreamy blues, creams, exploding with the red, and finally, ending with the darks, as if entering the bottom of the ocean. The collection ends with your eyes descending on the myriad of purses that look like they fell out of a rainbow on crack.

Even the self-references on some of the bags made me laugh. It's like the painting on the wall in a museum, and you need to look at the plaque to read the name. So when I look at this bag, not only is it a bag, or that it's an LV bag. You can now call it by it's catalog name. It's really going beyond branding, and re-assessing the identity of the piece. (Think I'm bull-shitting? This is what the art world's all about, my friend.)

The big question is, would you buy it? I think there's something so fundamentally free to be playful and just let all proper wisdom go out the window, and create something really edgy and zany and not be apologetic about it. But beyond "art," can the same view be that this is less about the artist, and more about capitalism at its worst? Now that Jacobs has taken the classic house of Vuitton and turned it upside down, but will charge you double or triple the norm, how do you take this piece of art and not look at it with some sort of distaste, as if the joke isn't so much the humor of taking something so dowdy as the classic monogram and having fun with it, but that the joke's on you 'cause you bought into the hype and mass hysteria for a bag that aesthetically, is, quite honestly, pretty ugly?

How different is the bag below from the Coach Scribble line? Who copied who, since Coach was copying inspired by Murakami's Multicolor Monogram? Why not buy the Coach instead, if "art" is really what you're after? (Yes, I really don't like Coach, which is why I bemoan the fact that you would even compare the two. Coach cannot replace LV!) When do you hit yourself on the back of your head and say that this is all a scam? Do these artists really believe in their work, or do they think that the can keep pushing, and no one can ever push back?

I have no idea which of the actual pieces will be available for sale, but I would love to see it in person. I have read comparisons of this collection to the Murakami collections in the past, but I thoroughly disagree. Murakami's pieces were of a very decisive, simple, direct, feminine, and clean aesthetic. Prince went the opposite. He didn't reign anything in at all, it's in all directions, some pieces still running with the ombre fades that was influenced by Vermeer, others mocked the proper printing of the logo on canvas, and yet others had really bad cartoon art on it. Seriously? Seriously.

If you catch me carrying one, would you call me an art collector or a sucker?

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