Frank Gehry-designed handbags make their debut at Art Basel Miami Beach –

Frank Gehry-designed handbags make their debut at Art Basel Miami Beach –

Paris -At 94 years old, Frank Gehry continues to explore new avenues for his creativity.

The Pritzker Prize-winning architect has partnered with Louis Vuitton on a collection of handbags scheduled to be unveiled Wednesday at Art Basel Miami Beach.

The 11 limited-edition designs will be displayed in a pavilion celebrating Gehry’s long collaboration with the French fashion house, which has included everything from the historic Louis Vuitton Foundation building on the outskirts of Paris, to perfume bottles with exquisite Murano glass stoppers.

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Having created a unique handbag design for the house in 2014, Jerry was thrilled to apply his touch to a full collection of Capucines bags in a variety of sizes. Compared to sponsoring a construction project like the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, it was child’s play, he said.

“The sketches I draw for buildings are the beginnings of an idea, but then it takes months to translate them into a building. Here, drawing sketches for a handbag takes a few days,” the Canadian-American architect told WWD by phone from his office in the Playa neighborhood. Vista in Los Angeles.

“A few years ago, I designed a collection for Tiffany & Co. And it was the same. We were taking the architectural language we were playing with and moving it to a smaller scale. It’s much faster. “You don’t have to go to many meetings to get it approved,” he continued.

Jerry worked on the project with his daughter-in-law, Joyce Shinn, making paper models of the bags as they passed. The results included “a pile of stuff that sounds stupid and I wouldn’t show it to anyone, but eventually, you know, you start exploring and you get into it,” he admitted with a laugh.

“You’re very close to the scope, the formal language and the materials, so it’s much more direct and much faster – I mean, infinitely faster,” he emphasized.

“You can see what you don’t like in an instant,” Jerry explained. “In the case of a building, you’re going to have a lot of potholes before you get to the end because you have so many other aspects of public safety, budget control, engineering, material availability, material maintenance, etc. moving forward.”

Many of his signature touches are evident in the finished designs, which use materials ranging from Plexiglas to brass and cast leather, and are decorated using techniques ranging from cutting-edge 3D screen printing to hand-painted watercolors.

He has a particular fondness for the original trunk-inspired Twisted Box bag from 2014, which was previously covered in monogram canvas and has been redesigned in two colours, black and silver, with the exclusive LV x FG monogram embossed on the smooth leather exterior.

“I think it has stood the test of time,” he said, pointing to the bag’s distinctive curved bottom. “It becomes a sculpture in itself. That’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. I can imagine a young lady using it, wearing a business suit, going into an interview. That would be very powerful if you sat at the table in front of the interviewer.”

Other designs allowed him to explore a more playful side, such as the Capucines BB Croc with a crocodile-shaped handle inspired by the four-metre-tall sculpture he originally created for the Sexy Fish restaurant in London. The shiny, black-coloured copper animal is contrasted with an abstract neon yellow pattern.

The designs are divided into three typological categories: architecture and shapes, material exploration, and animals.

Some clearly echo his more famous projects. The Capucines BB Analog bag, inspired by the angled facade of the IAC Building in New York City, is made of lambskin molded into sculptural shapes and screen-printed with a monochrome image reminiscent of the building’s exterior.

On the Capucines BB Shimmer Haze bag, panels of clear plexiglass are attached with brass rivets stamped with Vuitton’s signature flower Monogram, forming a protective layer over the iridescent PVC covering the exterior of the bag. The concept came from a transparent model that Gehry made for the Museum of Popular Culture in Seattle.

The architect and designer sees a common thread to all his projects: engaging people’s emotions.

“When I design a concert hall, I think about the relationship between the orchestra and the audience and use the building as a cover to achieve this,” he explained.

Likewise, when he created bottles for Vuitton’s Les Extraits Collection fragrances in 2021, he added a sharp edge to the bottle.

“There’s a kind of sexy quality to having that feature and I think it’s quite feminine, and I spent time thinking about that when I was working on it, so it’s like creating a building,” he added. “I try to engage people in an emotional discussion, so to speak, without them having to “Say anything, or be forced to say anything.”

As a global associate partner of Art Basel, Vuitton returns to Miami for the second year in a row. Her booth, covered in sail-like lattice structures inspired by Gehry’s 2014 window for the house, displays a selection of the architect’s work, including preparatory drawings, original artwork, scale models and a torso.

Gehry is a familiar presence in the art world, having befriended such luminaries as Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, and Ellsworth Kelly when they first burst onto the scene in the 1960s. The apparent spontaneity of Gehry’s drawings belies the difficulty of implementing these ideas, but he feels a strong kinship with the artists.

“Look at the paintings of some great painters – they were done very quickly, weren’t they? Matisse made them in an instant, and 100 years later, oh my God, they are so wonderful. I think there is magic in creativity. That’s the similarity: the exploration is similar,” he said. “Try, try, try out ideas.”

Contemporary artists in his circle constantly inspire him to create something new and challenging for the eye. “Sometimes the first iterations are threatening to me, and I look at them and say, ‘No, I can’t do that. I can not do that. “But then you work it out,” he said.

Géry describes himself as a Francophile, and enjoys a special relationship with Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

“When I do something interesting to him, he takes a picture of it and puts it in his lapel pocket. I’ve seen him do it, looking at it without me. I’ll soon know whether he’s there or not. He almost doesn’t need to talk,” he said.

“He’s an enlightened agent. He knows art. He knows music. He knows literature. He knows everything. He’s well-educated, he’s seen everything, so if you come up with something vulgar, he’ll be the first to say,Oh no‘,” he said. “I rely on him a lot in our relationship.”

At a ceremony in June where Arnault was honored for his contribution to real estate, the two revealed that they had another project in the works: a Cognac museum, to be designed by Gehry, next to the cellars of Moët Hennessy on the Charente River in Cognac. France.

Although Arnault gave him a lot of freedom, Gehry was careful to keep the LV logo relatively intact, by his standards, on his bag designs. “Obviously the logo is their logo. I’ve just manipulated it too broadly or superficially,” he said. “That’s an important part of this world. One has to respect that.”

But it’s not immune to being somewhat disrespectful to the brand’s most lucrative product category.

His work Capucines MM Floating Fish features a bright red fish with shiny skin and sequined scales, while his Bear With Us bag is a miniature version of the sculpture of the same name, which appears to be made of crumpled paper covered in metal. “I wasn’t expecting to turn that into a handbag,” he admitted.

Gehry revealed that Delphine Arnault, who in her previous role as Vuitton’s executive vice president oversaw all product-related activities, has a golden version of the statue in the garden of her home in Paris. The daughter of Bernard Arnault, who was instrumental in coordinating Vuitton’s projects with artists, is now CEO of Christian Dior Couture.

The bags from the new collection, which will be released in different quantities, range in price from €10,000 to €33,000, and are sure to become collectors’ items. Gehry thought about whether the shimmering fabric of one of his buildings in New York could also translate into a bag. Does this mean there is more to come?

“Yes, as long as they let me,” he replied, laughing.

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