Q & A with Marc Jacobs

Renowned for his collaborations with leading artists, Louis Vuitton designer Marc Jacobs teams up with Daniel Buren for its spring/summer 2013 collection.

Marc Jacobs was inspired by French artist Daniel Buren when designing Louis Vuitton's spring/summer 2013 collection. Photo / Viva
Marc Jacobs was inspired by French artist Daniel Buren when designing Louis Vuitton's spring/summer 2013 collection. Photo / Viva

What was your inspiration?
This collection was inspired by the work of Daniel Buren and in particular his work, Les Deux Plateaux at the Palais Royal in Paris. His use of columns, stripes and checks intrigued me, as well as his recent installations that feature escalators, some of them striped. These escalators give a fluid, mechanical motion; their constant movement is soothing alongside the graphic nature of his work. His work always moves me and his installations and sculptures provide the inspiration for the fabrics, silhouettes and bags in this collection. He worked with us on the creation of the set [of the show] and it was amazing. It was a privilege to meet someone I idolise.

How does Daniel Buren's work relate to Louis Vuitton?
The square and the grid are repeated motifs in Les Deux Plateaux, while checks relate to Louis Vuitton's own geometric pattern, Damier. Also Buren's famous work at the Palais Royal is in the centre of Paris, the home of Louis Vuitton, which is at the heart of the house today and throughout its history.

What was the story of the show?
The escalators provide a moving pattern, a rhythm and an almost mathematical equation. There is continuity and constant change within a defined formula. There is serenity in the repetition of a pattern, a feeling of a lack of emotion that is restful, something that is a long way from the romanticism of last season's collection. The square and the grid are important to Buren and the geometric check, or Damier, is important to Louis Vuitton.

How would you describe the silhouette of the clothes in the collection?
It is inspired by Daniel Buren. This is a collection that recalls a grid of differing columns and so there are three lengths - short, midi and maxi. The shapes are very simple; they are straight and created to a straightforward formula. The only round lines are the shoulders, at the tops of the sleeves. It is very pure, very simple, very strict. This is a graphic and powerful collection.

Please tell us about the fabrics.
The straight lines and apparent simplicity of the fabrics are deceptive. We have brought together a number of intricate techniques. Most striking are the microscopic sequins, the smallest in the world. These have been stacked to different levels, giving a depth to the fabric and the mesh that they are applied to. They are a useful metaphor for the way that Louis Vuitton works. Even if it is not obvious immediately, or to the naked eye, there is a huge amount of painstaking work that goes into every single thing that we do. All of the choices that we make, all of the skill, all of the craftsmanship, are part of who we are. And though you may be able to glimpse this excellence and creativity from a distance, sometimes you can only really appreciate it when you are close to it.

We used a technique called tuffetage, which recalls the way a carpet is made. Squares of fabric were embroidered, then the threads were cut to give a velvet or flock-like relief on leather and mesh, as well as knitwear. All the embroidery is very subtle, whilst being very beautiful and luxurious.

Why the addition of flower motifs?
I wanted to give a little relief from the rigidity of the checks. However, these flowers are not soft and romantic, but very graphic in white and green, or green and white - the repetition of contrasting colour almost creates the feeling of a check. Offering them in positive and negative forms makes reference to mirrors and to the geometry of the twins in the photographs of Diane Arbus, the positives and negatives you find in checks.

How did you approach the bags in this collection?
Like the clothes, the bags drew on Buren's work and the Louis Vuitton Damier. The shapes are geometric and even where softer materials are used, they are in rigid form.

Where did the idea for using escalators come from?
They are inspired by the work of Buren, who has used them in some exciting installations, introducing stripes. The smooth motion of this graphic pattern as it pours downwards is soothing and rhythmic.

How did you choose the music for this show?
I love the opera, Einstein on the Beach scored by Philip Glass and directed by theatrical producer Robert Wilson. The work features repeating cycles, it has mathematical formulae within it and shifts to a beautiful, moving story of love. It also has a sort of positive/negative feeling.

How did the idea of pairing the models come about?
I liked the idea of positive and negative, recalling a checked pattern. One wears white with green, while the other wears green with white. You can see the same thing but in a different way. I thought of the Arbus photographs of twins and the way that you see what appear to be two of the same thing, but they are not the same thing. Maybe one model wears a grey bow on a white shoe and the other vice versa. What you see is slightly unsettling, even disturbing, recalling the twins in the film The Shining a little.

Why is the design of the show for a collection important?
I think we need to take people on a journey and because Louis Vuitton is all about travel, we are the best people to create that journey. Travel can be in your mind or physical. Over the past few years we have taken the audiences for our shows to many different places. This season this is different again, a world inspired by Buren; one that encapsulates a dramatic set, an atmosphere, a collection and this journey.

- NZ Herald

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