Rei Kawakubo Puts Her Stamp on Louis Vuitton
And you thought Comme des Garcons’ collaboration with H&M was exciting…. Yesterday WWD reported that on September 4, Louis Vuitton will open the doors of a temporary concept shop—the French call it “an ephemeral store”—in Tokyo selling six bags designed by Rei Kawakubo. Yves Carcelle, Louis Vuitton’s president and chief executive officer, explained its genesis this way: “In one of my meetings with Marc Jacobs, he said, ‘I have a request for you. You know how much I love Rei; well, I met her the other day and she mentioned that she’d love to do something with Louis Vuitton.’” As it turns out, Kawakubo was captivated by the Louis Vuitton monogram store when it opened in Tokyo in 1978, but couldn’t afford a bag at the time because she was starting her label. These days, she could buy as many as she wants, but she prefers to be on the other side of the business equation. Of the six bags, two are re-editions of styles from the seventies; two are LV classics customized by Kawakubo; and two are Kawakubo originals. “They’re very kawaii,” said Carcelle. “Only a Japanese woman could’ve made them.” Vuitton, of course, is well known for its collaborations—its Takashi Murakami bags have earned the company hundreds of millions of dollars—but this one is unique. For starters, the bags aren’t sold in Louis Vuitton boutiques. Customers must visit the Tokyo concept shop (a “hypermodern” space that Kawakubo designed herself) before it closes in December to place an order—only one model per person—and then wait several months for the bag to be completed. The explanation? “Rei said, ‘I’ve been waiting 30 years, they can wait six months,’ ” explained Carcelle, adding, “In a world where everything is immediate, this is a return to real luxury.” For those of you who can’t make the trip, Kawakubo’s H&M merch arrives in stores this November. Louis Vuitton at Comme des Garcons, 5-12-3 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku.