Artist Jonas Wood explains his creative process of turning Louis Vuitton’s Capucines bag into art
The idea that fashion is art, and vice versa, has been one of debate for decades. It’s a conversation designers and artists have argued over and explored through many a collaboration between the two worlds. And this season, it’s one that Louis Vuitton is tackling again with its latest art project, Arty Capucines. Launched in 2013, and named after Rue des Capucines, the Parisian street on which Louis Vuitton opened its first store, the collaboration sees a handful of talented contemporary artists assigned to reinvent the French fashion house’s iconic Capucines bag.
This is not the first time the maison has given carte blanche to notable creatives to do as they please with one of its most timeless accessories; revered names like Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince have all previously lent their artistic touches to the brand’s coveted pieces. The latest reworkings include signatures of six contemporary artists; Alex Israel’s renowned wave motif; Sam Fall’s use of the natural world; Urs Fischer’s impish embellishments; Nicholas Hlobo’s intricate two and three-dimensional work, Tschabalala Self’s collages and Jonas Wood’s lush, colourful landscapes – the results of which are a showcase of the artists’ creativity, weaved beautifully through the modern innovation and traditional expertise of the Louis Vuitton ateliers.
“The brief was to make the classic Capucines, with its understated simplicity and clean lines, an art piece of our own,” explains Jonas Wood, the Los Angeles-based artist who constructed his version of the Capucines around one of his landscape pot paintings. Using a process of layering and collaging from photographs and drawings, he was inspired by the play of isolated plant forms on painted vessels, bringing forth those abstract geometric shapes and transforming them into prints to use on the bag’s calfskin leather.
“I used a similar technique to my work process using outlines of pots and vases, created by my artist wife Shio Kusaka. The resulting patterns at first appear black and white, but are actually 13 different shades that faithfully reproduce my original colour palette,” says Jonas. “The printed leather is then embroidered with over 200,000 stitches that outline the patterns to create an impression of rich, tactile texture and depth – the perfect setting for the matte pink LV logo, the same colour used for the bag’s striking lining.” And the bursts of colour on Jonas’ Capucines continue elsewhere, in the shape of a cheeky, spectacle-wearing giraffe bag charm, manufactured using high-definition printing.
“My Capucines is a disorientating compression of spaces and saturation of patterns; it’s lush and colourful as all my works, and invokes the worlds of artists such as Henri Matisse and David Hockney,” says Jonas of his vision. “In this precise project, I used the classic bag as a white canvas and was able to portray my artistic aesthetic on it the same way I usually would. I made Capucines my own, whilst still maintaining its main Louis Vuitton features. In the end, I was able to unleash my creative soul to create the perfect piece of art in the form of a purse.”
The collaboration saw Jonas and the Louis Vuitton ateliers work in tandem, each contributing their know-how to bring to life his vision for the brand’s classic bag. “When I was shown the different techniques and materials that we could use to recreate my paintings, one of the things that stood out was the way we could effectively draw a line by using a kind of bundled thread created by the sewing machine. I really like that the thread sits on top of the surface of the bag – it heightens the contrasts of the two colours,” says Jonas.
“I really wanted to put some texture, pattern, and colour into the design as well, so I used sections from three different paintings of mine for the bag’s surface. We developed the outer shell using stained leather that was then sewn into the bag; it was cool the way that we were able to recreate all the details of the painted patterns using totally different materials.” With a primary mission to create a desirable object, Jonas is delighted with the final product, “I mean, I don’t use bags, but I would wear it,” he says. “Just as any woman that will understand the art behind the piece and the savoir faire, which is the key behind all the Louis Vuitton pieces.” The Arty Capucines collection is now available worldwide at Louis Vuitton stores.
View the full Arty Capucines collection:
- Words by Dina Kabbani