Vuitton x Art: A Philanthropic Partnership with Sotheby’s Is the Brand’s Latest Collab

The Artycapucines auction puts a charitable twist on the fashion house's history of producing fine art It bags.

When does a handbag become art? Some would argue that certain bags achieve fine art status through design and craftsmanship alone while others counter that mass production erodes the argument. However, there’s no denying handbags-as-art when the bags in question have been remade by artists.

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Handbags with fun and funky designs sit on a table with monogram hatboxes
The Louis Vuitton and Sotheby’s Artycapucines auction runs through July 12. Courtesy Sotheby's

Luxury luggage icon Louis Vuitton’s ongoing Artycapucines Collection is an ode to that notion. Since 2019, the brand has invited numerous contemporary artists from around the world to do what they would with the Vuitton Capucines, resulting in a lineup of limited-edition pieces that showcased the bag’s classic silhouette in creative ways.

Now fans of the brand, the bag or the artists involved in the collaboration can snap up the most limited of the limited-edition Artycapucines in a special charity auction hosted by Sotheby’s. Online bidding is open on twenty-two exclusive, one-off Artycapucines bags (each presented in an accompanying signed Boîte Chapeau) in the Louis Vuitton and Sotheby’s Artycapucines auction, which runs through July 12 and will benefit several philanthropic organizations.

Louis Vuitton has pledged to donate the net proceeds of the sale of each handbag to a charity or NGO of the artist’s choosing. Those artists—Amélie Bertrand, Daniel Buren, Sam Falls, Urs Fischer, Gregor Hildebrandt, Donna Huanca, Huang Yuxing, Alex Israel, Liu Wei, Peter Marino, Beatriz Milhazes, Vik Muniz, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Park Seo-Bo, Paola Pivi, Ugo Rondinone, Tschabalala Self, Josh Smith, Jonas Wood, Kennedy Yanko, Zeng Fanzhi and Zhao Zhao—have selected organizations focused on poverty reduction, disaster relief, education and refugee rights, among other concerns.

This collaboration with Louis Vuitton is a first for Sotheby’s Handbags & Accessories department, but according to a statement emailed by the auction house, is “entirely in line with its ongoing support of emerging and independent artists and designers.”

Louis Vuitton does indeed have a rich and visually stunning history of collaboration with artists that one can passably trace back to Gaston-Louis Vuitton—grandson of the Maison’s founder—and the work he commissioned from artists for the brand’s boutiques. More accurately, that history only goes back as far as 2001, when then-creative director Marc Jacobs asked artist and designer Stephen Sprouse to play with the iconic Vuitton canvas. The resulting Graffiti line was slated to be a runway and editorial collection but became wildly popular. Today, bags from the original run and the 2009 Tribute reissue celebrating the late Sprouse’s life routinely sell for double their original price.

Louis Vuitton Hosts A Tribute To Stephen Sprouse - After Party
Agyness Deyn attends the tribute to Stephen Sprouse afterparty hosted by Louis Vuitton at the Bowery Ballroom in 2009. Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images

A year later in 2002, Jacobs launched one of the most long-lasting and era-defining collaborations with pop artist Takashi Murakami. His Monogram Multicolore became emblematic of a playful Y2K aesthetic, appearing on the spray-tanned arms of the tastemakers of the time, who included Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and Lindsay Lohan, and preceded several more collaborations: the Cherry Blossom collection from the same year, 2004’s Panda collection, 2005’s Cerises collection, 2007’s MOCA Hands collection, 2008’s Monogramouflage collection and the Cosmic Blossom collection, which debuted in 2010.

"Au Diapason Du Monde" Exhibition At Fondation Louis Vuitton In Paris
Artist Takashi Murakami attends the “Au Diapason Du Monde” Exhibition at Fondation Louis Vuitton in 2018. Photo by Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images

Jacobs was also the mind behind the brand’s collaborations with artist and photographer Richard Prince, who reimagined the traditional logo canvas in his impressionistic Aquarelle monogram and created the Jokes line with its delightful snakeskin details and terrible (but cheeky) gags, and tattoo artist Scott Campbell, whose black leather and Damier Graphite canvas designs were darkly beautiful.

Louis Vuitton : LVxKOONS Exhibition
Jeff Koons at the “LVxKOONS” exhibition at the Louvre in 2017. Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

Other artists who’ve been invited by the fashion house to put their own spin on the Speedy and other bag lines include Cindy Sherman and Marc Newson, who contributed to the Iconoclasts collection in 2014; Jeff Koons, whose reproductions of famous works like Van Gogh’s A Wheatfield with Cypresses and Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass became the Masters collection in 2017; Jake and Dinos Chapman, whose bags emblazoned with African wildlife have become collectibles; and artist-of-the-moment Yayoi Kusama, who first worked with Louis Vuitton in 2012. In January of this year, she launched a second collaboration to great fanfare.

Yayoi Kusama Collaboration With Louis Vuitton In London
Yayoi Kusama collection with fashion house Louis Vuitton outside Harrods department store in Knightsbridge. In Pictures via Getty Images

Vuitton x Art: A Philanthropic Partnership with Sotheby’s Is the Brand’s Latest Collab