VIDEO: Yayoi Kusama Doppelgangers Preside Over Her Louis Vuitton Debut on Fifth Avenue

A wax model of Yayoi Kusama in the window of Louis Vuitton, NYC
(Photo © Tom Chen)

At the Louis Vuitton store on Fifth Avenue earlier today, the first sign that something out of the ordinary was going on was the black dots bubbling up the building’s façade. The next was the gaggle of store staff, members of the press, and well-dressed attendees gathered behind a black fence, noses pressed up to the store windows gazing in at… Could that actually be Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese mistress of polka dots and subject of a current Whitney museum retrospective herself? The artist seemed to be sitting stock still in the midst of a swirl of curving red sculptures decked out in white spots, and the Louis Vuitton Kusama collaboration sunglasses perched on her nose framed by a signature red anime-style bob.

In fact, the seated figure wasn’t actually Kusama, but a remarkably realistic wax figure made to look like the notoriously shy (these days, at least) artist. The younger models, seen posing in the windows with matching wigs, were alive, however. After ogling the fiberglass flowers and spotty tendrils installed in the windows (which were designed by Kusama to celebrate the launch of her capsule collection for the luxury brand), it was time for the assorted guests to be funneled inside the store, where they were met with the artist lookalikes arranged step-by-step on the grand staircase, a tasteful selection of Kusama-designed Louis Vuitton goods on display, and slim glasses of champagne, or Perrier for the less adventurous  (it was only noon). Though the artist's voice had emerged from loudspeakers to announce the opening and she was said to be in the store, Kusama was nowhere to be seen — but her mark was. 

Spots covered all of the brand’s traditional luxury commodities, ranging from white-on-red purses, wallets, clutches, and watches to black-on-yellow sunglasses, scarves, and bags. None of the merchandise was available for purchase quite yet, ARTINFO was politely informed; buying would have to wait until the store opened to the public at 4pm. Those interested in partaking of the overlap of art and fashion will have two New York locations to choose from: Louis Vuitton’s SoHo location is similarly bespeckled, with five other stores launching worldwide. Even though the Whitney retrospective doesn’t open to the public for another two days, we’re already seeing spots.