Fashion + Art: Connecting the Dots Between Louis Vuitton & Yayoi Kusama

That collaborations between artists and fashion designers occur presupposes that artists aren’t fashion designers and fashion designers aren’t artists. Things, obviously, aren’t so simple. Nevertheless, meaningful cross-fertilization is rare. “Often brands collaborate with artists to augment their cultural capital,” says Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT. “The result is often more arty than art.”

But in the best collaborations, the result is chimerical. Take the partnerships between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali in the 1930s, or Yves St. Laurent’s Mondrian collection of 1965, which kept the painter’s spirit alive even though he had died a decade earlier. Perhaps the most striking recent example of this is Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with the reclusive Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Kusama and Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs may have overlapped in New York City in the late ’60s when Jacobs was a fifteen-year-old stock boy and Kusama, then a mid-career artist, was riding the tail-end of Fluxus. They never met, and soon thereafter Kusama returned to Japan to live, voluntarily, in a mental institution. Jacobs, meanwhile, to put it mildly, moved up the ranks.

It wasn’t until 2006, when Jacobs visited the artist in her studio, that their collaboration appeared in the offing. “The fact that [Kusama] never veers from her vision is really admirable,” Jacobs says. Six years later, the result debuts in June: a collection of textiles, accessories, handbags, and footwear that are emblazoned with the polka dots with which Kusama has been obsessed since the 1950s. Collection highlights include precious silk dresses, a plastic trench coat, a bonded cotton coat, intricate charms, and a minaudière [ornamental case] reminiscent of the artist’s classic pumpkin sculptures. Perhaps the apotheosis of the collaboration is a pattern in which Kusama’s polka dots are fused with the Louis Vuitton logo. It’s neither simply art nor merely fashion. Instead, it confounds the separation between the two and creates a vital living hybrid.

Photo by Joshua Scott

The Summer’s Best New iPhone Apps

It’s hard to define summer. Sure, we can throw a road trip, a couple of beach days, and a fling or three in there, but overall, the year’s hottest season is also its most carefree. And no matter where you go and what you do this summer, your trusty little iPhone is your greatest companion to it all. With these six apps, skip traffic and speeding tickets, watch live concerts, discover obscure music, look and sing like a pop star, and save a North Atlantic whale. Why not? It’s summer. Anything can happen.

Scout by Telenav [Free]
Going on a road trip and sick of relying on your map-averse friend in the passenger seat? Get a hold of Scout, the first daily personal navigator for your iPhone that syncs up with your computer and even your car. Using award-winning Telenav navigation, Scout text and voice guides you turn-by-turn to wherever you want to go. The best part: you’ll avoid traffic and speeding tickets thanks to the app’s real-time traffic updates, automatic rerouting, and alerts about red light cameras and speed traps. Suddenly, life got easier.

Auto-Tune Star [$1.99]
The best-selling music app in 40 countries, Auto-Tune Star uses real Auto-Tune technology to help your voice sound just as manufactured as your favorite rockstar! Just sing into the mic, apply and adjust Auto-Tune, play back, and become amazed at how much you sound like Ciara. Songs from your iTunes music library and beats are available, and your recordings can be easily shared via e-mail and Facebook, straight from your beach towel. What a celebrity.

Whale Alert [Free]
Navigating a boat on the East Coast? Interested in whale-watching? Want to save endangered North Atlantic right whales? We think so. This app listens for right whale calls and plots their location on an easy-to-ready nautical map, thus reducing the whales’ collisions with ships and helping to save their lives. Free Willy; get Alert.

Fitocracy [Free]
Slay the laziness dragon (quite literally) with this video game-inspired app that will get you so addicted to fitness, you’ll want to be naked all summer. Check-in to specific fitness routines, earn points, unlock achievements, beat quests, and track the speed of your workouts on your screen. If you still need a fire lit under your ass, compare your progress with other users and compete for fitness domination.

The Vinyl District
Whether you’re sick of Pandora or you just want to get the heck out of your sweltering apartment, consult The Vinyl District: the first-ever GPS-based record store locator app in the US. Press the "All Stores" icon for directions to the nearest independent record shop, share via Facebook and Twitter the gems you’ve uncovered, and spend some much-needed "me" time listening to good tunes.

Moshcam [Free]
So you can’t make it to Bonnaroo, Summerfest, or Camp Bisco – big deal! Who needs ’em when you have Moshcam, an app that provides instant on-demand music streaming of hundreds of recorded music concerts. Choose from the largest catalogue of recorded live videos in the world and watch professionally-shot performances of your favorite artists straight from your phone, anytime you want. Entry-fee, high beer prices, and long lines to the bathroom not included.