When, in April of this year, Louis Vuitton presented a collaboration with Jeff Koons that saw a selection of its most beloved handbag styles printed with some of art’s most iconic images, it went down with resounding success.
In fact, so quickly did the first Mastered series earn cult covetability that today they have announced a second edition, starring the likes of Manet, Turner and Gauguin. In an industry that so often seeks to surreptitiously align itself with the art world, there is something brilliantly explicit about simply printing luxury handbags with reproductions of history’s most revered paintings; it is weird, and witty. These are Old Masters rooted in our cultural consciousness, just as Louis Vuitton itself is (albeit in a very different domain), and it’s quite remarkable to see them refigured in a newly consumable context.
It’s sort of hard to choose a favourite – Manet’s Luncheon On The Grass is appealing for the controversy it wrought on Nineteenth Century Parisian salons (imagine how they’d feel about a handbag); Turner’s vision of Ancient Rome speaks to our British patriotism. But, if you forced our hand, it would be towards the Monet: the famous water lilies and reflective metallic letters printed upon a Neo Neu tote is a whole new level of kitchsy chic. And so, come its October 27 launch date, we can’t imagine we’ll be the only people heading to Louis Vuitton.