Museums and art galleries have long understood that people want to own a unique work of art, but most simply can’t afford it. The typical solution to this has been to offer cushions, T-shirts and posters imprinted with reproductions of popular artworks. Shifts in consumer expectations, especially those of picky Parisians, have meant that discerning buyers are demanding French luxury brands with the hallmarks of great artists, something more personal that communicates the essence of the artist. Enter Louis Vuitton and François Cadière.
Finger constantly on the cultural pulse, Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton has picked up on this mood, as demonstrated through his collaboration with artistic heavyweights Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami, both of whom have created unique Vuitton handbag designs. Now, the House of Vuitton offers the works of another great artist, François Cadière.
Cadière has focused his creative talents here on textile design. The photographer, illustrator and master collage artist offers hand-painted patterns and borders on scarves that weave a spectacle of torn, superimposed posters illustrated in a kaleidoscope of pinks, blues and reds. Much of the collection was inspired by the streets of Berlin and Paris, the two cities in which the Belgian-born artist currently divides his time. He hopes the abstract prints of his shawls and scarves for Vuitton will allow wearers to set off on an “inner voyage,” whereby they project their own vision and meaning onto the works.
Cadière himself is as quirky as you’d expect an artist to be—for example, he paradoxically claims to find inspiration in “harmony in disharmony” but emphasizes that there is no better inspiration than love. And fortunately for him, he says with a cheeky wink, he is quite sure there is a particular ‘’love” of his own on the horizon, which seems to inspire not only his work but his near-permanent smile as well.
Not surprisingly, he has a very sweet, playful personality, which seems to come out in the color and gentle designs of his work. He was emphatically grateful to Vuitton for “giving [him] enough freedom to do whatever [he] wanted,” and actually enjoyed the process of collaboration almost more “than working on art alone.” Indeed, he seems to believe that the art world in itself is a bit static these days: “I think art and fashion are similar, but the energy and essence of each is different. At the moment, [the art scene] has lost its energy; it’s no longer as closely in contact with people as fashion is. Fashion is closer to the people on the street; it’s more connected. I think it may even change art—museums and art galleries seem to be picking up on [this more popular] vibe, too,” Cadière stated.
Yet, it does seem that at least some of the people on the street are still interested in art, and marrying it to fashion magnifies this—if sales of Vuitton’s artist editions are any indication. And now, thanks to Vuitton’s vision, we can be more connected to the world of art than ever before. From the graffiti art decorating a Sprouse bag to the inspiring prints on a Cadière-designed scarf, the best little art gallery in town could well be found in our own closets.