Designer Jewelry: The iconic graffiti motif that Steven Sprouse created for Louis Vuitton in 2001 has been realized in fine jewelry for the first time. The sparkling pendants are part of a new collection of clothing, accessories and leathergoods that celebrates the late artist's life.
"I did my best, in a very first degree way, to do what I think Stephen would have done, or has done, in terms of fashion," comments Vuitton artistic director Marc Jacobs of his friend, who died of heart failure at age 50 following a diagnosis of lung cancer.
Sprouse was a high-profile member of New York's art, fashion and music scene, who rose to prominence in the early 80s with his revolutionary fusion of uptown sophistication and downtown punk, gritty street style and glamorous high fashion. His Day-Glo colours, 60s-inspired shapes and graffiti prints earned him the prestigious CFDA award for Best New Designer in 1984.
Despite the critical acclaim for his collections, however, commercial success consistently eluded him until he was invited by Jacobs to collaborate on Louis Vuitton's spring/summer 2001 collection. The graffiti bags were an instant sell-out.
Sprouse would no doubt enjoy the irony and humour in the latest designs, including a padlock-style pendant bearing Louis Vuitton graffiti in pink sapphires, orange sapphires or green tsavorites. Costume jewelry in the collection includes two graffiti cuffs - one spelling out Louis and the other spelling out Vuitton. The bracelets are crafted in black lacquer and pewter with gold finish on the interior and coloured resin lettering.
The cuffs retail for $1,130 each while the pendants are $16,600 at select Louis Vuitton stores (call 866-VUITTON or see www.louisvuitton.com).
Vuitton's homage to Sprouse also includes graffiti-tagged T-shirts and jeans with Day-Glo details, a rose-print T-shirt dress and graffiti-print sunglasses and sneakers. A range of leathergoods includes bags screenprinted with graffiti in Day-Glo shades of pink, green and orange. Other styles bear a digitized rose print inspired by the flowers Sprouse used to Xerox until they became distorted and abstract.
A retrospective exhibition of Sprouse's work is on at New York's Deitch Projects gallery until February 28. The Stephen Sprouse Book is being published by Rizzoli.
By Bernadette Morra