Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: Polka Dots - Art or Affliction? Yayoi Kusama for LV Unveiled

Yayoi Kusama at the Serpentine Gallery in 2000 with her work
 Dots Obsession. Photograph: Graham Turner

Japan’s Yayoi Kusama …… Some say she’s the greatest contemporary artist to come out of Japan. Art is completely subjective, but I have to believe those people are wrong. My most recent experience with the work of Kusama was in print. I happened upon an edition of Alice In Wonderland that has been published with her illustrations. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the combination of the perfect illustration with a story can have an unparalleled impact. I happen to recall, as a child, seeing a disturbing image of a man’s drooping face alongside a story in a collection of works by Lewis Carroll and being frightened to the bone. An ill-placed illustration just leaves the reader confused. This Alice in Wonderland is just a whole lot of confusing. The illustrations are at best cute, but they don’t make sense to the story.
            Let’s talk Louis. Let’s talk Louis and Yayoi. Yayoi Kusama’s “thing,” if you will, is polka dots. She is famous for covering things in polka dots. Louis Vuitton has often collaborated with artists for limited edition collections. You may remember my favorite, the Takashi Murakami smiling cherry blossom monogram bags. I generally think paying large quantities of money for handbags carrying other people's initials is a laughable activity, but even I wanted one of those bags. Marc Jacobs, artistic director at LV, decided the brand should collaborate with Ms. Kusama. And now we have a lot of dots. Dots, dots, and more dots covering the monogrammed prints and textures.

            The line has only been launched this week (Tuesday, while I was busy complaining about the bookstore where I discovered the Alice in Wonderland edition). Perhaps it’s too soon to tell how people will react. I am not impressed. I admit, I do not care for Ms. Kusama’s art in general. I hesitate to even call it art. 
3.1 Phillip Lim Homage
to Roy Lichtenstein
            It is less artistic than the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein, which, coincidentally, you could also be wearing this season. 3.1 Phillip Lim has some Lichtenstein-inspired pieces for pre-Fall 2012 (such as The Break-Up at Netaporter). This PVC handbag titled The Break-Up is actually just a barely modified version of the face of the blonde woman in Lichtenstein's work Kiss V. While also not my style, it's fun. 
            Don’t get me wrong - the Kusama line for Louis is fun, lively, and colorful. Some of the pieces are cute. I’d probably wear some of the accessories if they happened to appear as gifts in my closet. Is it new and revolutionary? No. Seurat did dots, long before Kusama, and to a much more impressive effect. Are they stunning, mind-blowingly beautiful clothes? No. Is the line distinctive enough that people will see it and know, “Wow, that’s limited edition Yayoi Kusama for LV!”? Probably not. It doesn’t really look any different than anything that might appear in the average Moschino line. Would it be cheaper to let me paint polka dots on your LV monogram bag? Of course. Is it art? You know how I feel. You decide. 

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