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Louis Vuitton's fine art-themed bags delight insiders but baffle social media

By Zhao Siyuan | | Updated: 2017-04-18 09:47

Louis Vuitton's fine art-themed bags delight insiders but baffle social media

Louis Vuitton's Jeff Koons collection. [Photo/Louis Vuitton's Weibo account]

In the latest example of how fashion and art connoisseurs can dissent from the general public, Louis Vuitton's new collaboration with artist Jeff Koons led to mixed reviews from high-brow commentators and social media onlookers.

Advertised as a celebration of classical art, the new handbag collection uses five painters' iconic masterpieces, including Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Peter Paul Rubens' The Tiger Hunt and Vincent Van Gogh's Wheat Field with Cypresses, as design patterns with the painters' names emblazoned onto the bag in glittering letters. Prices vary from $2,800 to $4,000, according to different sizes.

The seemingly-artsy collection so far has earned accolades from art pundits, for example, Jonathan Jones, who writes about art for The Guardian and was on the jury for the 2009 Turner Prize.

Jones praised the French fashion house and Koons' joint efforts to "bring high art to high street" in a blog published on The Guardian's website.

The author also acclaimed Koons' idea as a "heartfelt homage to great art", saying the New York-based artist was trying to popularize fine art "in a language people in the 21st century can understand."

The accolade, however, is not the whole story. Echoing Koons' reputation as a controversial figure in pop art, his latest foray into fashion once again divided reviews into two extremes. Known for his bold reproduction of banal objects, Koons has been a beloved figure in the art market - his Balloon Dog fetched a record-setting price at $58.4 million in 2013. While fans recognize his pioneering spirit, some critics also find his work kitschy.

Therefore his Louis Vuitton gig unsurprisingly drew hundreds of critical reviews on the French brand's official Facebook page.

Some comments dismissed the collection as a betrayal of the luxury brand's classy image. "I love Louis Vuitton bags and have got a good collection of them but this collection is just awful," one person wrote.

Louis Vuitton's fine art-themed bags delight insiders but baffle social media

Comments on Louis Vuitton's Facebook page.

Others also see it as disrespectful to Leonardo Da Vinci and the other great masters featuring in this collection. "I find this entire line offensive. What a way to ruin these masterpieces & the public's interpretation of them," another wrote.

The critical tone didn't ease on China's social media. On Louis Vuitton's official Weibo account, comments are equally harsh. Some said the design cheapened the brand's image, making it no different from a "souvenir bag from a museum gift store" which costs 1 percent of the luxury bag.

Seeking more publicity in the Chinese market, the fashion powerhouse invited Chinese actress and fashionista Fan Bingbing to the collection's star-studded launch ceremony in Paris last Tuesday, which also included a fleet of A-listers, such as Jennifer Aniston, Lea Seydoux, Michelle Williams and Cate Blanchett.

Louis Vuitton has long collaborated with celebrity artists. Among the best-known is the collection with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who is known for the iconic use of polka dots in her artworks.

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