Louis Vuitton’s annual Artycapucines release is a red-letter launch for serious bag collectors and art lovers. Since its inaugural range, this project has pioneered the realm of collectable and wearable art by providing a global platform for a diverse slew of changemaking, contemporary artists.
Each year the brand enlists six designers to reinterpret its signature Capucines handbag – an elegant little number named for Rue Neuve-des-Capucines, the Parisian street where Louis Vuitton first set up shop in 1854. It’s a feminine bag approaching the realm of the beautiful, with a certain timeless savoir faire and an ability to inspire unbridled creativity. This fourth chapter is overflowing with notions of nature, textile manipulations and experimental colours. Granted carte blanche by Monsieur Vuitton’s creative laboratories, the artists take the reins. The maison’s tremendous craft atelier is then tasked with materialising their bona fide visions into limited-edition existence. The sky is far from the limit for Louis Vuitton’s list of conceptual creators and savvy resident craftspeople. From the holographic iridescence of Amélie Bertrand’s bag to the decaying look of Kennedy Yanko’s, which is made with bacteria. Sling it under your arm or showcase it on your sitting room shelf: that part is up to you.
Hailing from Cannes, on the Côte d’Azur, Amélie Bertrand is a digital artist with an unbridled sense of artifice. Her sculpturally splendid and synthetic psychedelia, skewed perspectives and shallow horizons create a hallucinatory collision of natural and artificial influences. Her bag design is a study of light and surfaces, analysing how the Capucine can throw light back on its wearer, illuminating the night with a palette inspired by the endless sunsets of Bertrand’s childhood. The bag’s phosphorescent handle and surface components are “charged up” using daylight in order to glow, at night, like a digital dream or a pop nightmare.
An internationally renowned French sculptor, painter and conceptual artist, Daniel Buren is known for the graphic intensity of his work, which often feels immersive. If you’ve ever frolicked on his Colonnes de Buren, the 1985 installation of black-and-white-striped columns that fill the inner courtyard of the Palais Royale in Paris, you’ll know what we mean. For Louis Vuitton, the artist took his trademark vertical stripes and devised a simple, yet striking, circular rendition of the Capucine’s handle which contrasts with the trapezoid shape of the bag. The result? A joyful symphony of geometry and colour.
New Yorker Peter Marino is one of fashion’s most powerful tastemakers. Always clad in leather, always on the front row, the award-winning architect has designed the global flagships for Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Zegna. From the striking architecture of his buildings to the art and light that always fills his spaces, Marino has shaped how we experience global luxury. He’s instantly recognisable for his head-to-toe, custom-made, leather-daddy look, which he designs himself. Fitting, then, that his Artycapucines comes in black leather, cut into strips and bound with metal studs. It was he says, inspired by a medieval box designed by the Italian architect Mauro Codussi, which sits beside the monumental staircase of the 13th-century Christian fraternity building Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice.
Kennedy Yanko usually works with scrap metal hand-sourced from shipping containers, gas barrels and broken dumpsters. She uses a paint-skin technique to create collage-like sculptures. Working with the Louis Vuitton artisans, she recreated this effect, which is usually made by peeling large blankets of dry paint off a canvas. Louis Vuitton used a bacteria-induced rusting process and spectrometer colour sampling to create the warp of the bag, which despite its experimental exterior is eminently practical. The top handle is removable and the St. Louis, Missouri-born artist added a little pouch in the base so it could be carried as a clutch.
Swiss native Ugo Rondinone composes searing meditations on nature and the human condition. Clowns and rainbows are recurring motifs in his work, which fuses a variety of sculptural and painterly traditions both ancient and modern. Rondinone’s multi-coloured diamond pattern, which could have been borrowed from a harlequin’s suit, forms the body of his Capucines. Its 3D texture invites touch, while, over it all, a rainbow breaks to form the handle of the bag. “I knew the bag had to please,” he says of this portable pop of joy.
One of Korea’s most celebrated artists, Yecheon-born Park Seo-bo is the founder of Dansaekhwa, an artistic movement that took off in the early 70s. Altering the course of Korean art and being deeply absorbed by the philosophy of Buddhism, Seo-bo’s work must be “purely purposeless” and adhere to the notion of meaningless, “infinite repetition”, yet it appears deceptively simple. His bag is based on one of his own paintings, which was inspired by a visit to a valley next to Mount Bandai that was painted neon red by the sun; it acted as a reminder of his own insignificance compared to the vastness of nature. Ultimately, he’d like the bag and artwork to be displayed together, “as a whole, as one object”. Collectors, it’s over to you.