Architecture, Fashion

Louis Vuitton and Frank Gehry Unveil Latest Collaboration – Architectural Handbags

The Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Photo: Iwan Baan

Article originally posted by Architectural Digest

Frank Gehry at his Los Angeles studio. Photo: Mario Kroes

To borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill, Frank Gehry and LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault enjoy a special relationship.“He knows how to work with me,” says the Pritzker Prize–winning architect and AD100 Hall of Famer. “We share a passion for classical music, he understands the creative mind, and he’s open to experimentation,” Gehry continues, summarizing a partnership that began more than two decades ago and has included the monumental Fondation Louis Vuitton art center in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne (AD, October 2014)as well as the brand’s Seoul flagship (AD, February 2020).

Leather samples for the Capucines MM concrete pockets Handbag, which utilizes 3D screen-printing to simulate the material on calfskin. Photo: Piotr Stoklosa
The bag is adorned with an LV logo specially designed by Gehry. Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

At Art Basel Miami Beach last December, Louis Vuitton celebrated the fruits of that fertile collaboration with an exhibition that featured wonders at all scales— from perfume bottles and trunks to preparatory sketches and architectural models. The presentation also marked the launch of an extraordinary capsule collection of 11 limited-edition handbags, most of them versions of the Capucines, that epitomize the spirit of lyrical form, material exploration, and structural derring-do that runs through all of Gehry’s work for the maison—and, indeed, his entire oeuvre.

Gehry’s design for the Louis Vuitton Seoul flagship. Photo: © Yong Joon Choi/Louis Vuitton

“I’ve always been interested in fashion. I take the subject seriously—not as something that can be dismissed,” the architect insists. As evidence of his sartorial bona fides, Gehry points to his long-standing fascination with Vogue, his family’s connections to Federated Department Stores, and an assignment he once gave to Harvard students to design a shopping center—a challenge that raised eyebrows among his ostensibly more high- minded peers in the academy. Regarding the new handbags in the Louis Vuitton x Frank Gehry Collection, he says, “I didn’t think of them as just things sitting on a table but as objects in motion, moving along with the people who carry them.”

From left, the Capucines BB Croc, Capucines Mini Drawn Fish, Capucines MM Floating Fish, and Bear With Us clutch, all by Gehry for Louis Vuitton. Photo: Mario Kroes

Whereas the Capucines BB Analog (crafted with bespoke molds screen-printed with architectural imagery) pays homage to the sail-like forms of Gehry’s IAC Building in New York City, the Capucines BB Croc nods to the massive crocodile sculpture he installed in the London restaurant Sexy Fish, with the reptilian figure reworked as a handle and the creature’s jaws clamped on to the bag’s leather top. Capucines MM Concrete Blocks, another highlight in the collection, evokes the architect’s visionary experiments at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbaoand the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

Other offerings draw strength and inspiration from his earlier collaborations with LVMH. The Capucines MM Floating Fish, for example, conjures the piscine light fixtures Gehry designed for the Fondation Louis Vuitton, while the petals of glass-like resin that adorn the Capucines Mini Blossom pay tribute to the floral stoppers of the perfume bottles he dreamed up for Vuitton’s Les Extraits Collection.

Their Les Extraits Collection perfume bottles. Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

In addition to the Capucines, there’s the Twisted Box—a reinterpretation of the architect’s torqued design for the maison’s 2014 “Celebrating Monogram” program commemorating its 160th anniversary. The collection is rounded out by a sensational bijou: the Bear With Us clutch, a miniaturized brass version of Gehry’s 2014 life-size ursine sculpture installed at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

“The incredible talent and workmanship of the craftspeople at Louis Vuitton allowed us to realize our vision, especially with the more complex designs,” Gehry says, giving additional credit to his daughter-in-law, Joyce Shin Gehry, for her contributions to the project. “They allowed us to push the boundaries of form and materials. They were true partners in this voyage of invention.”

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