There are fashion collaborations, and there are capital-F Fashion collaborations. Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama's 2023 partnership is very much of the latter, building off the inherent pedigree afforded to anything created by one of the world's largest fashion empires and pre-eminent artists.
Louis Vuitton is well aware of this, which is why it began teasing the new collaboration back in spring and why it's preparing literally hundreds of products bearing the brushstrokes of Kusama herself.
Much like Kusama's trademark "Infinity Rooms," looking at the 2023 Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama collection is like looking at an endless expanse that stretches on for miles. So we're here to parse the most salient bits before the collection's release.
Why does it matter?
Yayoi Kusama has partnered with Louis Vuitton two times now. Kusama, who's consistently produced variations of her signature polka dot art since the 1970s, is one of the world's most famous artists thanks to the enduring popularity of her Instagram-friendly Infinity Rooms and instantly-recognizable polka-dotted pumpkins.
Kusama's partnership with Louis Vuitton wasn't the house's first — then-creative director Marc Jacobs invited other blue chip artists like Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami to put their own spin on LV designs, foretelling the LV collectibles of today — but it was and perhaps still is the biggest line to ever bear the reclusive Japanese artist's name.
This second collaboration is equally important to both Kusama and Louis Vuitton; the luxury house is so adamant on the collection's success that it's already factoring the sales into its Q1 2023 financial report.
And then, for collectors and Kusama fans alike, Louis Vuitton's capsule offers a rare opportunity to get luxury goods laden with the artist's touch.
Original items from LV's 2012 Kusama collection make even the new stuff look affordable so this is a comparably low barrier to entry, though don't expect anything to be "cheap" by any means.
There's also the appeal of the artisanal process applied to certain items — Louis Vuitton's craftspeople developed a special technique to make some of the 3D paint daubs look "wet," as if they'd just been painted by Kusama's hand — and that this is the first time that Kusama's art has been applied to LV menswear.
When does Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama release?
Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama's 2023 collaboration launched January 1 in Japan and China, heralded by a digital campaign that debuted in Tokyo in early December.
The Kusama collection will then release at Louis Vuitton stores worldwide on January 6, though not every store will receive every item.
Louis Vuitton is also opening two pop-ups in New York City — one at 122 Greene Street in Soho and a second at 70-74 Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District — where customers can discover the dotty collection beginning on January 6.
More like what isn't dropping? Louis Vuitton executive vice president Delphine Arnault has promised over 400 individual items, with at least 100 already revealed.
Chief among the collection are a host of Louis Vuitton bags, which all offer a twist to a signature Kusama motif.
There's the Louis Vuitton Duffle, resplendent in monochrome paint splatters and canvas; the Louis Vuitton square bag sporting in full-color paint and monogram canvas; a tote bag in pure white leather with a tonal rendering of Kusama's beloved flowers.
It's cliché to say but there's literally something for every fan of any LV bag.
The apparel and accessories is similarly expansive, covering ground that ranges from bikinis and swim trunks to tailored suits and puffer jackets.
There's an air of Virgil Abloh wafting through the menswear, which includes varsity jackets, chunky sunglasses, and his LV Trainer, while the womenswear is classic Nicolas Ghesquière, all clean lines and easy layers.
Kusama's touch even extends to a special edition of Louis Vuitton's Spell on You perfume, complete with matching monogrammed canvas case.
For anyone seeking something from Kusama that's more substantial than something from the MoMA gift shop, look no further. Louis Vuitton clearly has you covered on all fronts.