Luxury Brands and Art Collaborations | IPOL Conference

ph: In Pursuit of Luxury

I had the best couple days at the “In Pursuit of Luxury” conference, discussing with academics and practitioners the impact of luxury brands’ economic growth on craftsmanship and the making.

I presented a paper looking at how art collaborations redefine luxury production, craftsmanship and the making.

Launched in its modern format in the early 2000s by Marc Jacobs – then-creative director of Louis Vuitton – through a series of object-based productions with artists such as Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama etc., the association of luxury brands with art has been traditionally interpreted as a strategic move to infuse a sense of uniqueness and authenticity into products, thus compensating for the production of diffusion lines.

Taking stock of the recent evolution of luxury brands and art collaborations, I advanced the argument that these initiatives are actually reconfiguring practices and narratives of the luxury making.

Certainly, the artistic reinterpretation of a product and the transfiguration of brands’ savoir faire into content for advertising campaigns, promotional videos or museological exhibitions are producing simulacra that endanger the suchness of making as a concrete act. However, there are cases suggesting that the implementation of art collaborations in luxury productions transcends the realm of product making not to efface it, but to include the competences of digital artists, recontextualise artisanal skills, multiply the creative potential of an idea into different outlets.

In so doing, this “creaRtivity” rewires the interrelation between human creativity, craftsmanship, and luxury production, translating the delivery of luxury value into the era of postmodern, spectacular consumption.