When you’re trying to give your brand a refreshed, ultra-exclusive sheen in the face of a consumer market that has grown tired of its flash, aligning the brand with well-respected artists, designers and aesthetic thinkers is one of the tried-and-true paths to take toward redemption. When you have the coffers of LVMH at your disposal, that strategy becomes writ large – for Louis Vuitton Icon and Iconoclasts, Louis Vuitton has tapped rival Karl Lagerfeld, as well as Christian Louboutin, Comme des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo, architect Franky Gehry, photographer Cindy Sherman and industrial designer Mark Newson to create bags or luggage celebrating Vuitton’s iconic monogram.
Art-world collaborations have been a mainstay of the Louis Vuitton marketing machine since Marc Jacobs first teamed the brand up with Stephen Sprouse in 2001, and now, after Jacobs’ departure, Vuitton will undertake its biggest collaborative effort ever. Nicolas Ghesquiere and executive Delphine Arnault hand-picked six creative personalities that they consider geniuses in their respective fields, and each will design pieces that will be available in limited quantities starting in October, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
The most surprising parts of these collaborations are, of course, that the list includes several people who run brands that are direct Vuitton rivals in at least one product category. LVMH has more money than any of us can ever hope to imagine, though, and such a high-profile, high-end collaboration can only bring positive attention to each collaborator’s individual efforts elsewhere. Lest you wonder why Chanel, in particular, would let Lagerfeld have such a long leash, it’s important to remember that he is also the creative director at LVMH-owned Fendi.
LV has been continuously plotting ways to reinvent and reapply its monogram for over 100 years (this collection is part of the company’s 160th anniversary celebration), so it’ll be interesting to see how each of these aesthetic heavyweights take to the time-worn challenge. Lagerfeld, for one, is said to be designing a punching bag, and Newson will design for the men’s side of the business.
The pieces have not been revealed yet, but WWD did publish a few photos of the collaborators hard at work on their bags. Check them out below and read more about the collaboration via Louis Vuitton.