Louis Vuitton Foulards d’Artistes: RETNA

Since 1854, when the house was created, Louis Vuitton has never stopped nurturing the relationship between craftsmanship and design. Many artists, from Stephen Sprouse to Yayoi Kusama, from Takashi Murakami to Richard Prince, under the impetus of Marc Jacobs, have collaborated on special projects, making a bag, scarf, or shoe into a desirable collector’s item.

For Spring-Summer 2013, Louis Vuitton has invited three personalities emerging from the street art to give a new look to the house’s emblematic models. Under their impetus, the giant silk scarf, the stole and regular silk scarf devote themselves to a new look, with inscriptions and colours bursting with style and energy. Items from women’s wardrobes to wear on any occasion: for a casual arty style that opens the doors to any location, at any time in our lives. A colourful invitation to travel far and wide, in three acts: AIKO, Os Gemeos & RETNA.


Script Stole by Retna for Louis VuittonScript Stole by RETNA for Louis Vuitton

Born in Los Angeles in 1979, Marquis Lewis, aka RETNA, began writing on walls, trains and roadways at a young age, taking inspiration from traditional alphabets in Arab, Asian and Hebrew cultures, as well as Old English font, contrasting that lettering with elements from contemporary culture. In 2011, RETNA was included in ‘Art in the Streets “, the ground breaking street art retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and had his first solo exhibition, ‘The Hallelujah tour” in New York. Recently, RETNA exhibited a solo show at Michael Kohn Gallery where he painted the entire outside of the gallery, and earlier in 2012 he painted the famous Houston/ Bowery wall in New York City.

RETNA’s choice of a cashmere and silk stole as a background for his expression was quite natural; he interprets the Louis Vuitton signature on this shifting, fluid canvas in a graphic style, which is both ancestral and visionary. The XL motifs leap off the fabric like symbols from a melting pot of an alphabet, recalling elements such as Egyptian hieroglyphics, Inca signs or Hebrew letters, on a background which dissolves into sheer watercolours. The past, present and future collide in weightlessness.

“My favourite part of experience was being able to work with a group of kids from the Overtown Youth Center coordinated by Louis Vuitton. We had a large canvas and I worked with each of them to paint one of my letters. I love working with kids and it makes me remember why I do what I do.”

Script Stole by RETNA for Louis Vuitton is 70% cashmere, 30% silk and comes in two colors: Pink Pivoine and Grey. Available at Louis Vuitton stores for US$860.

Script Stole by Retna for Louis VuittonScript Stole in Pink Pivoine (left), Grey (right) by RETNA for Louis Vuitton

The logo becomes a signature

Remixed traditional Japanese codes, a mystical alphabet, a micro-moon mosaic… The arty palette is adorned with tradition to enhance a look, a scarf that is ready to slip around your neck, like a talisman, going beyond gender, borders and generations. An art culture that has been so dear to Louis Vuitton since its first collaboration with the artist Stephen Sprouse in 2001.

On this occasion, Louis Vuitton overhauls the patterns created by Stephen Sprouse in new colors and sizes while a Monogram shawl gets an arty overprinted style, with contrasting juxtaposed colour blocks.

“To my eyes, AIKO, Os Gemeos & RETNA, represent the most complete and original expression of the emerging art scene which is coming out of street culture. They transcend their original universe and occupy their places as artists in their own right. Their visual language is expressed in a different way. Retna has painted planes and cars, Os Gemeos has worked on musical instruments, Aiko on clothing. Through the Louis Vuitton project, they have all applied themselves to an exercise of style. A mastery of fusion between creation and tradition, their imaginary world and the technical constraints of production,” Jeffrey Deitch, the new director of MOCA Los Angeles, and an exhibition commissioner.

Images via Louis Vuitton