The limited-edition Artycapucines collection made waves following a successful debut in 2019, six years after the launch of the first Capucines bag.
Named after Rue des Capucines, the Parisian street on which Louis Vuitton opened his first store in 1854, the Capucines bag has fast become a contemporary classic.
This year, the modish bag lends itself for a second time as the perfect canvas for six celebrated international artists: Beatriz Milhazes, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Josh Smith, Henry Taylor, Liu Wei and Zhao Zhao.
Through an exploration of varying styles, techniques and palettes, these artists have succeeded in creating profound and exquisitely worked versions of the bag. The expansion of the Artycapucines collection marks Louis Vuitton’s enduring commitment to nurturing creativity and innovation.
The collection is also indicative of the maison’s unique ability and passion in using its artisanal savoir-faire to support artists bring their ideas to life. Each bag in the latest Artycapucines collection will be available in a limited edition of 200 pieces in stores globally.
Best known for his acrylic paintings, mixed media sculptures and installations, American artist Henry Taylor’s Artycapucines weds Louis Vuitton’s masterful techniques with a meaningful and expressive piece. Taylor’s 2017 painting, A Young Master, is a portrait of the late Noah Davis, the Black American artist and founder of LA’s Underground Museum.
Through revolutionary laser printing and traditional marquetry, the painting exists as a reproduction on leather with much attention spared in replicating its original brush strokes and varied textures. The research and development of the bag required over 100 experiments to explore different methods of 2D and 3D printing. The bag’s taupe Taurillon leather background becomes a blank canvas, onto which the tactile portrait on leather merges using exacting and demanding marquetry techniques. The resulting bag boasts bold artwork that is also a striking sculptural bas-relief.
Beijing-based artist Liu Wei has made a name for himself through his provocative works that jump between media forms with no apparent unifying stylistic tendencies. Approaching the Artycapucines project with space-age vision, he takes inspiration from Microworld, a large-scale sculptural installation premiered at the 2019 Venice Biennale.
An assortment of aluminium petals in various sizes from this sculpture is given a new interpretation for the bag. Five different types of leather with silver finishing are precisely thermo- moulded and added directly to the bag’s exterior or joined using Louis Vuitton-engraved rivets. In an unusual twist, the bag’s handle comprises black Plexiglass, which lends a retro-futuristic touch, and is held in place by rings covered in metal orbs. Each orb is individually attached with contrasting finishes to match those in the original installation.
Brazilian-born artist Beatriz Milhazes prevails as Brazil’s most successful contemporary painter. Her methodology often employs the principle of collage, with her contribution to the Artycapucines project being a technical and artisanal achievement. Eighteen assorted types of leather undergo refinement to matching thickness before being carefully inlaid onto the bag’s pure white lambskin base through advanced techniques.
Based on a new artwork created for the project, the kaleidoscopic design flaunts bold and lively hues and textured leather complemented by two areas of gold leaf accents. Furthermore, an inlaid, injected silicone gel peace sign adds a touch of ‘70s charm to complete the look. The LV logo is playfully camouflaged with Milhazes creation, using enamel marquetry and gel to match the exact colours of the design.
New York-based artist Josh Smith is most widely known for his aggressive, gestural paintings of his name, wherein the letters vacillate between abstracted forms and signifiers. His Artycapucines’ cotton canvas exterior is made by first embroidering white coloured stitches to replicate brushstrokes. The embroidery also gives a sensation of depth, to help recreate the lively energy of his signature painting.
Next, the fabric and stitches are meticulously printed before Smith’s name takes emphasised form with additional embroidery overlaid on each letter. A neutral complement to bold colours, the LV signature incorporates metal inlaid with wood, with the handle similarly crafted from pure pearwood. Overall, a vibrant and joyful accessory, the bag’s inner silk lining boasts a Palm #3 print motif, another of Smith’s striking paintings.
French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel delights with a graceful and refined creation that brims with joy. An artist with a penchant towards the metamorphoses and mutations of materials, his contribution is a tactile wonder. Intricately hand-woven raffia forms the main body of his Artycapucines, while the top edge of the bag boasts a sassy hand-embroidered trim made of a type of black satin silk more commonly seen in haute couture.
The handle of the bag features enlarged black resin beads that are reminiscent of the artist’s best-known large-scale works, such as his Le Kiosque des Noctambules Métro entrance in Paris. Completing the bag is an eye-catching charm composed of three oversized resin beads that seem more like a personal and portable Othoniel sculpture, ready to entrance viewers with its smooth and dark gleaming finish as only resin can achieve.
Zhao Zhao is known as a notable figure among the young post-’80s generation of contemporary Chinese artists. His works often confront ideological structures and celebrate non-conformity as seen in his Artycapucines which takes inspiration from his 2018 sculpture, In Extremis No.3. For his bag, the artwork’s metal components transform into 353 individual laser-cut patches made of five different kinds of leather.
Some leather is hand-embroidered, while others are machine-embroidered, printed with seven different patterns, or worked into relief. They are then assembled and sewn together precisely into a single panel that adheres to the exact design layout that Zhao conceived. The resulting pattern covers the entire expanse of the finished bag, which gives the illusion that the original artwork is moulding to fit exactly around the Capucines.
Photographer: Julia Noni
Styling: Isabelle Kountoure
Model: Blesnya Minher
Still life: Peter Langer
All clothing: Louis Vuitton
(Photos by Louis Vuitton)
This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia’s October 2020 issue.