Brooklyn is ready for its Murakami moment. Tomorrow marks the Brooklyn Museum opening of “©Murakami,” the giant, candy-colored retrospective of the work of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami that last fall made a splash at its inaugural venue, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. But how would the show’s Brooklyn debut compete with the L.A. opening gala, headlined by Murakami pal Kanye West?
Last night’s “Brooklyn Ball” also featured a performance by West as well as the debut of “Monogramouflage,” a new camouflage-inspired print created by Murakami and Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs, but the real buzz surrounded the squad of “New York-style street vendors” stationed outside the museum selling real Vuitton bags and original Murakami canvases while preaching the anti-counterfeiting gospel of the luxury goods industry. Those who listened carefully heard the alternating chuckles and sobs of Andy Warhol‘s ghost.
“While it may seem lighthearted on the surface, the presentation is meant to underscore just how serious[ly] Vuitton executives are taking the counterfeit trade,” wrote WWD yesterday. “And how diligently they are working to stop copycats from getting their merchandise to consumers.” Later in the article, Vuitton chairman and CEO Yves Carcelle compared the flood of counterfeit handbags to drug trafficking. “It’s an ongoing process,” said Carcelle of his company’s war against counterfeiters, carried out by a dedicated 40-member global team. “If you ask people who are working against the drug trade, it’s a daily thing of controlling the borders, investigating the workshops and controlling the stores, or the tenants and landlords.”
Murakami first teamed up with Vuitton in 2003. Why? “Some of my female assistants at Kaikai Kiki were really excited about this project, and said to me, ‘You absolutely have to do this!’” Murakami told us last year. “Looking at that, I thought, Well, I should do it, shouldn’t I.” The handbags he designed with Jacobs tweaked the signature LV monogram canvas with rainbow colors and cartoon creatures such as grinning cherry blossoms. “Honestly, I have no idea why it was so successful,” he said when we asked to what he attributed the runaway success of collaboration. “If I knew that, then I would understand the essence of how to make a hit out of anything at any time…but unfortunately I don’t.”