SPROUSE IN THE HOUSE

PARIS — Stephen Sprouse is at it again with those thick “subway markers” used by graffiti artists. He used them to create prints for his first signature collection in 1983, and now he’s picked them up again for Louis Vuitton, where he collaborated with creative director Marc Jacobs on prints, fabrics and accessories for the spring 2001 line that will be shown today.
But, Sprouse doesn’t like to think of his new work as retro. “I’m more into the present,” he said. “But I guess the Eighties are the present now. This stuff looks more now to me.” The items in question include classic LV monogram luggage and handbags scribbled over with his familiar Day-Glo graffiti.
Jacobs and Sprouse, in fact, first met in the mid-Eighties, but only recently became better acquainted. Jacobs said he’s free to bring in people like Sprouse on a collaborative basis. A figure associated with the counterculture, Sprouse found himself working for the most powerful luxury firms in the world and for one of the most establishment brands. But he figures that the underground and the mainstream are no longer polar opposites. “They absorbed each other. One needs the other,” he said.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s not a bit taken aback by the Vuitton empire.
“They can sure get a lot of bags made,” he said Tuesday as the show music blasted in the background. “I have to say, I’ve never seen so many bags in one room.” Sprouse, who hates to fly, has been commuting back and forth between Paris and New York for this project. But he said that he plans to concentrate on his painting after the show, including a large commission for NASA.
And what about relaunching his own signature collection? If there’s a big money person out there, he said, he’s ready to be absorbed.

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