Monogram Multicolore: A Colorful Reinterpretation
The year was 2002, and the fate of Louis Vuitton was in the hands of creative director, Marc Jacobs. Only 5 years into his 16 year tenure, Jacobs would tap the brand’s most iconic–and longest standing–collaborator to date: Takashi Murakami. Among the most celebrated contemporary artists in the world, Murakami’s imaginative and colorful aesthetic would infuse a radical, playful spirit into Louis Vuitton. Murakami’s first creation for the renowned fashion house appeared on the Spring/Summer 2003 runway. Invited to re-imagine Louis Vuitton’s signature monogram, he designed the Monogram Multicolore collection.
Featuring 33 different colors on a black or white coated canvas backdrop, a bright palette replaced the brand’s classic brown print. Injecting hot pink, turquoise, yellow and kelly green into already coveted LV silhouettes–like the Alma and Pochette Accessoires–the Monogram Multicolore collection would define a generation. A kawaii-inspired dream, Marc Jacobs described this whimsical line of bags as a “monumental marriage between art and business.” Nostalgic yet refreshing, this collection has seamlessly withstood the test of time. An unprecedented commercial success, Murakami’s first collection set a precedent for collaborative designs to come.
A Monumental Marriage of Art and Commerce
Received to such tremendous demand, Murakami’s Monogram Multicolore collection was only the start. His most iconic Louis Vuitton designs would quickly follow, including Cherry Blossom (2003), Panda (2004), Cerises (2005), MOCA Hands (2007 for Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles exhibition), Monogramouflage (2008), and Cosmic Blossom (2010).
As the ultimate collectibles, Murakami’s Character bags capture the carefree joy of his designs. Instead of reworking the LV all-over logo print, this collection emblazoned Murakami’s most popular characters–most notably the panda–across the center of Louis Vuitton’s most classic styles.
As celebrated by Highsnobiety, “museum gift shop merchandise rarely gets doper than this.” Launched as part of the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition on camouflage, Murakami’s Monogramouflage collection brought high-end fashion into the world of fine art. Never before had camouflage–a print with military roots–been so embraced by the luxury world.
From the cheerful print of smiling cherries to the relaunch of Louis Vuitton’s ‘Hands’ symbol as part of the limited edition MOCA collection, Murakami’s designs are remembered as the refreshing pop of color that the fashion industry so clearly needed. After being phased out of stores in the summer of 2015–under the helm of current creative director Nicolas Ghesquière–items from the Louis Vuitton x Takashi Murakami collection only became that much more coveted. “Our collaboration has produced a lot of works, and has been a huge influence and inspiration to many,” Marc Jacobs said in 2009. “It has been, and continues to be, a monumental marriage of art and commerce. The ultimate crossover – one for both the fashion and art history books.”
Coveted on the Resale Market
Today, Murakami’s highly coveted pieces are only available on the resale market, with increased rarity continuing to drive up the prices. The fashion world’s obsession with ‘90s and early 2000s style has never been so prominent, and sporting a LV x Murakami design is the ultimate status symbol. This monumental collaboration paved the way for collections to come, with Louis Vuitton giving artists like Richard Prince and Yayoi Kusama free reign to transform the brand’s leather goods. Committed to supporting the work of creatives, Louis Vuitton is a pillar of innovation in the world of luxury fashion.