Stephen Sprouse for Louis Vuitton collection returns

Fashion Critic

Like a greatest hits album, the Stephen Sprouse for Louis Vuitton collection is back, arriving in stores Friday, nine years after the artist’s original Monogram Graffiti purses became ironic icons by “defacing” the Louis Vuitton logo for the first time.

Only now, in addition to using graffiti, Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs updated the look by splashing Sprouse’s roses on monogram wallets, handbags and scarves to spectacular effect. The collection ($175 to $2,555) is a joy to look at in these dark times, a 1980s punk Pop Art explosion of Day-Glo pink, green and orange that’s a happy homage to Sprouse, who died of lung cancer in 2004.

Sprouse first started playing with roses in the 1970s, when he used a Xerox copier to enlarge and distort images of the flowers to incorporate into his designs. For this collection, timed to Thursday’s opening of a Sprouse retrospective at New York’s Deitch Gallery and the release of a Sprouse Rizzoli book on Feb. 1, Jacobs graffiti-tagged T-shirts, leggings, jeans and the lining of a classic raincoat, and printed digitized roses on knit mini-dresses. “I did my best, in a very first degree way, to do what I think Stephen would have done,” Jacobs said in a statement.


On the accessories side, glow-in-the-dark, graffiti-tagged high tops with multiple Velcro straps and mask-style sunglasses seem tailor-made for Kanye West. Pumps and ballerina flats embellished with outsized roses have a sweet, streetwear vibe. The rose motif also appears on the classic LV Monogram Keepall, Speedy and Neverfull handbags and coin purses.

Sprouse started out working for Halston and dressing Debbie Harry for stage appearances. In 1983, he debuted his own clothing collection, showing graffiti prints and Day-Glo colors on the runway. Although commercial success eluded him for most of his career, Sprouse’s work helped merge pop culture’s uptown and downtown sensibilities, paving the way for fashion’s love affair with contemporary art, which culminated in everything from Chanel’s Mobile Art Project to Dolce & Gabbana’s splatter-painted ball gowns.

Sprouse first collaborated with Louis Vuitton in 2000 at the invitation of Jacobs, who got the idea when he saw a monogrammed trunk coated with a layer of black paint at actress-singer Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Paris apartment. The collection marked the beginning of a series of Vuitton designs featuring the work of such artists as Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince.

And judging by the success of those limited edition collections, you won’t want to let the graffiti dry on this one.

Stephen Sprouse for Louis Vuitton collection available Friday at Louis Vuitton, 295 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 859-0457 and Louis Vuitton stores worldwide.