JGreat time for peas. This season they take over the summer stripes and thrive on all the support. Can we thank Louis Vuitton’s recent and resounding collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who fueled her work with her obsession with polka dots?
In 2022, a gigantic effigy of the perennial took up residence in the brand’s emblematic building, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, whose six floors were covered with large colored dots, a sign that has been tirelessly used by the visual arts since the 1960s artist was repeated and has now been placed on the Champs-Elysées. monogrammed bags, clothing and accessories for a collection entitled Creating Infinity – an infinity within the reach of very few budgets.
But the peas did not wait for Yayoi Kusama. The polka dot dresses, borrowed from Gypsy culture, have become a sign of Spanish identity through flamenco. On the screens, the dot has also highlighted certain iconic costumes: Minnie Mouse, Mickey’s companion, Marilyn Monroe in Seven years of reflection, or Laura Dern-in Sailor and Lula.
The kitschy final scene of David Lynch’s film Palme d’or (1990) shows her in a backless black playsuit with white polka dots. An outfit called “of maturity”much more austere (in terms of cut, color and material) than anything she could wear during this film, in which she embodies a parodic and hypersexualized femininity.
Playful in its repetition
The repetition adds something playful to the enveloping, reassuring curve of the dot. Previously attached to the feminine, he willingly dressed by artists who questioned gender: from Prince, in a comprehensive overview of the LoveSexy Tour in the late 1980s, to Leigh Bowery, a figure from the London underground of the 1980s and 1990s, who questions through compliance with dominant norms in a context marked by the AIDS epidemic – from which he will die. Because the dots also have something disturbing in their uncontrolled and obsessive repetition. It is not without reason that in the Middle Ages they were symbolically linked to disease – and to various dermatological symptoms.
At the age of 10, Yayoi Kusama – voluntarily interned in a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo since 1977 – fell victim to a visual hallucination and the red flowers of the tablecloth at home suddenly began to saturate her field of vision. To assuage her fears, she began, among other things, painting dots on every possible surface. “My wish was to predict and measure the infinity of a boundless universe, from my own position, using peas,” she writes in her autobiography: Infinite Net.
In the 1960s, Kusama launched his own clothing line in New York, at the forefront of the avant-garde. Between the performance and the orgy, his fashion shows notably included large tunics with polka dots that were cut round to leave certain strategic parts of the body accessible. In this distant past, his clothes were seen as weapons in the United States “war” that she led “against the established order”. Not all peas have the same taste.