Louis Vuitton – So Trashy.

100204-louis-vuitton-raindrop-besace-brown-1I have been thinking about the new ‘Raindrop Besace’ bag by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton.  And I think I love it.  Well… to clarify… I love it… because it is so confusing. 

It is, literally, a trash bag.  Except that it is not.  A neo-realist representation of a trash bag.  But done in glossy treated canvas or super-shiny leather (conflicting reports) with the oh-so-Louis-Vuitton vegetable tanned leather shoulder strap.  So it’s a luxury trash bag?  Well, considering the price tag, yes.  Speaking of, I love the ruckus that is being raised over the price of this bag.  A genius move on the part of Louis Vuitton.  Of course any price that would seem ‘reasonable’ for this bag would be too low and end up killing the hype.  Instead people are shocked and befuddled by the price.  So when they eventually see one on the street they will think either ‘that woman has too much money’, ‘that woman is crazy’, ‘why did that woman spend that much on that bag?  Is it worth it?  Does she know something I don’t??’ or ‘that woman gets it’.  Any of which might be advantageous to the bag owner.

But the ‘Raindrop Besace’ bag is still a trash bag.  So is the reference too literal?  Well, the argument could be made that any more abstraction of the source inspiration and the point would be lost.  Alternatively, it could be looked at as a usable Claes Oldenburg sculpture.  Except that there is no play of scale differentiation from the actual reference object.  So then is the bag Pop Art in the tradition of Warhol?  Take a mundane object like a Brillo box and elevate it to the level of fine art?  The Brillo boxes, although definitely ‘Pop’ seemed to be art for art’s sake whereas this bag seems to have something more to do with branding and consumerism (it is for sale after all) than just art.  If it is art it is definitely ‘low’ art…

As the Brillo was a commentary on ‘art’, is the ‘Raindrop Besace’ bag a commentary on luxury goods?  Is Jacobs saying ’it’s all trash.  Even the expensive stuff’.  Or is it ‘the only distinction between you and a homless person is the logo on your trash bag’?  Is the message actually all about branding?  Is Louis Vuitton saying in effect ‘we can put anything out with our name on it and you will buy it.  No matter the price.”  Hmmm… I would hope that Louis Vuitton would not be so disdainful of it’s own customers as to bite the hand the feeds it. 

100205-Oldenburg-Floor-Cake-aBut the question remains.  Though, viewed from another angle, the Louis Vuitton trash bag could be seen as just the logical conclusion to the branding path that consumerism has been going down for so long.   The ‘Hello Kitty-ization’ of branding if you will.  The state where a brand is so well established (and idolized) that whatever it puts its mark on sells.  Hello Kitty toast anyone? 

Or… is this the egoism that so many famous designers end up flirting with at some point in their career?  The moment where they think, “I can put my name on anything and the public will eat it up with a spoon”.  Of course they would never admit to thinking that… But the evidence is out there.  Philippe Starck put his name on a series of plastic ‘Gnome’ tables for KartellDamien Hirst has been covering everything in dots, spin paint, pills and skulls for several years now.  All of that stuff sells.  Is taking that step supremely self-assured or lazy?  Calculated or crazy?  Hard to say without knowing the mind of the designer in question.

So could Marc Jacobs simply be reaching that point with the ‘Raindrop Besace’  bag?  Maybe.  Or maybe he is a little more clever than a first glance at this bag would have us believe.  After all… it has immediately gotten lots of people talking.  Love it or hate it they are talking.  And passionately.  The most peculiar and amuzing thing is that I get the sense that even the people that say they think it is a terrible bag… still… kinda… want one.

That is why I think Marc Jacobs is crazy.  Crazy like a fox.  It is extremely hard for a brand like Louis Vuitton, that has had many smart branding moves, from the ‘LV’ logo-ization to Takashi Murakami, to keep producing work at such a high level.  Marc Jacobs had big creative (and brand) shoes to fill.  Because of that, with this ‘Raindrop Besace’ bag, I think he is a genius. 

Now I would love to see a a big glossy ‘LV’ branded garbage truck pull up to the Fifth Avenue curb.  And from it Marc Jacobs and Kanye West in ‘LV’ coveralls are chucking ‘Raindrop Besace’ bags out to the screaming fashionistas.  That would be fun!

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  • Billy C. says:

    Yo D………LUVd your Super Bowl ad analysis!!!

    re: Snickers spot:

    Dude, that was one of my favorite lines.

    It’s advertising.

    Just watch and see how many people start saying,
    “Dude, you’re playing like Betty White out there.”

    I know I’ll be using it on the field of play.