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The world’s most coveted bags and the artists who created them

The world’s most coveted bags and the artists who created them

The fruit of cooperation between famous artists and famous fashion designers.

Art and fashion have been intertwined since the early 1900s, when Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated on designs that blurred the boundaries between the two creative spheres. In 1965, Yves Saint Laurent found inspiration in the art of Piet Mondrian, using his geographical patterns and color shaping for an entire collection. Versace’s glamorous 1991 pop collection included motifs from Andy Warhol’s art, including Naomi Campbell’s Marilyn dress.

These collaborations gained more ground in the late 1990s, especially during Marc Jacobs’ creative directorship of Louis Vuitton. During this period so-called “bags” became in demand, opening a new chapter in fashion. In the following years, bags that reflected urban culture and conveyed a sense of rebellion and individuality spread as another new trend (see Stephen Sprouse and Supreme).

The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them
The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them

Stephen Sprouse x Louis Vuitton, 2001
In 2001, designer Marc Jacobs asked American designer and artist Stephen Sprouse, whom he greatly admired, to design some prints for the house’s bags. The designer revealed in an interview that his inspiration came from the audacity of artist Marcel Duchamp, who in 1919 apparently played a prank on teenagers on a postcard by adding a mustache to the Mona Lisa’s face. “The idea is to take something special and respectable, modify it and create something new, kind of revolutionary and kind of punk,” the designer stressed.
Sprouse bags feature the distinctive bold letters he used in his collections, in addition to the distinctive house name. The result was a new energy brought to traditional models that captivated the brand’s young audience. The collaboration was re-released at the end of the decade, after Sprouse’s death, and is still considered a favorite among fashion fans. The triumph of this collaboration paved the way for Jacobs’ artistic freedom, laying the foundation for a series of future collaborations with established artists.

The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them
The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them

Takashi Murakami and Louis Vuitton, 2003
The success of the Stephen Sprouse collection was just the beginning for Louis Vuitton. Since then began a long history of collaboration with well-known artists, such as the case of Takashi Murakami. His first collection, in 2003, was one of his most iconic and his designs are now some of the most sought-after and distinctive in the vintage market. In the Multicolore bag, Murakami revisits the iconic Louis Vuitton logo with its distinctive multicolor palette, and has gained popularity in the fashion world as well. Some of his designs included manga-inspired characters alongside the classic LV monogram, a perfect representation of the artist’s penchant for blending high art with popular culture. This success led to further collaborations between the artist and the house, and among other collections, the now famous Cherry Blossom and Monogramouflage bags stood out.
This combination was another successful attempt to renew the image of Louis Vuitton, and the result was so beneficial that the collection continued to exist in stores until the summer of 2015, having outlived its longevity and claimed almost all other artistic collaborations with the house. .

The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them
The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them

Tracey Emin x Longchamp, 2004
To mark the tenth anniversary of the success of the Le Pliage bag, French brand Longchamp invited artist Tracey Emin to create a limited edition series. In its creation, Amin incorporated some of her trademark techniques such as deconstructing and reconstructing fabric, patchwork, embroidery and drawing, as she was interested in creating a truly distinctive collection, which sold out as soon as it was launched.
From this synergy emerged the International Woman collection, featuring 200 unique handbags and weekender bags that tell the story of a woman in love across the globe. Each bag carried a rose, on which Amine designed the Longchamp logo, along with the handwritten name of a street, city or hotel that reminded the artist of a romantic moment or encounter from her life. Each rose was original, contained personal details and memories of it and of course signed by the artist.

The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them
The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them

Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton, 2012
During his 16-year tenure as Creative Director of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs created remarkable collaborations with artists. One of them, which aroused the interest of art and fashion lovers, was the one with solo artist Yayoi Kusama. The designer first met Kusama in 2006 when he visited her studio in Tokyo. Six years later, the first collection of their collaboration was released: a collection of bags, clothing and accessories with the artist’s signature polka dots and colorful aesthetic. The Dots Infinity collection was the most extensive collaboration between Louis Vuitton and an artist at the time, and the house also curated a Kusama retrospective at the Whitney Museum that same year.
Their first collaboration combines contemporary art and high fashion and emphasizes the symbiotic relationship between artistic expression and luxury goods. The Pumpkin Bag, inspired by Kusama’s pumpkin sculptures, emerges from this synergy. On the occasion of Kusama’s inclusion in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world, Marc Jacobs wrote a laudatory essay in the magazine, asserting among other things: “It is an unrepentant dedication to her art. Decades from now, when people look back at her work, they will see that her idea About infinite creation and its eternal staying power.

The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them
The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them

Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton, 2017
It was only a matter of time before Jeff Koons collaborated with Louis Vuitton. The collection lived up to its “Masters” title, as it included reproductions of masterpieces by big names in the art world – Da Vinci, Titian, Rubens, Fragonard, Boucher, Van Gogh, and others. By selecting distinctive works that form part of the collective memory, the Masters Series sought to give a new perspective to these masterpieces, bringing them out of the museum and into the world. The capsule collection is inspired by Koons’ “Gazing Ball” series, in which he reconstructs iconic art pieces with a metal ball in the foreground, giving the viewer a new perspective on the artwork. In addition, Koons was able to leave his own mark alongside these legends: for the first time in the history of the house, the artist was allowed to reshape the brand’s monogram to bear his initials, alongside the famous LV logo.
Prices for the collection ranged from €538 to €3,685, and the collaboration was widely considered a success, both critically and commercially.

The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them
The world's most coveted bags and the artists who created them

Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton, 2023
Ten years after their last collaboration, two of the biggest names in art and fashion have decided to join forces once again. From Louis Vuitton’s recent collaboration with Yayoi Kusama under the artistic direction of Nicolas Ghesquière came the Creating Infinity collection, which featured iterations of endless patterns, dots and an abundance of vivid colors from the priestess of hypnotic and colorful art. For art collectors and Kusama fans alike, the collection provided another opportunity for luxury goods lovers to obtain products with the artist’s touch. The extensive collection included more than 400 pieces, with many different bag models, which were presented in different color combinations. However, the collaboration sparked intense controversy, both from critics and the art community, as priority was given to selling products rather than showcasing the artist’s creations. The other reason is that Louis Vuitton relied on Kusama’s reputation to further enhance its own, and instead of creating new, innovative designs that showcased the new authenticity of both the artist and the fashion house, the collection seemed to showcase similar designs from the 2012 collaboration.
Furthermore, given the brand’s insistence on an interactive art experience with a giant replica of the artist hovering above the store on the Champs-Élysées in Paris and a lifelike animatronic robot of Kusama in the store windows, questions have arisen about who benefits from there being too much agreement.

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Photos: Getty Images/The Perfect Picture