This season, there’s a high-profile collaboration with French luxury-goods giant Louis Vuitton on its Artycapucines handbag project, for which the brand sought out a diverse list of six international artists to reimagine the handbag with a tabula rasa – Beatriz Milhazes, Jean-Michel Othnoiel, Josh Smith, Henry Taylor and Liu Wei, as well as Zhao Zhao.
Born in 1982 in Shihezi, a city in the foothills of the Tian Shan mountain range in northern Xinjiang Province, artist Zhao Zhao has come a long way.
Today, based between Beijing and Los Angeles, Zhao is one of China’s most promising generation of ’80s-born artists, having exhibited around the world at institutions such as New York’s MoMA PS1, UCCA Beijing, MAXXI in Rome and Berlin’s Museum of Asian Art.
There’s been an established tradition of work with bold, often contrarian contemporary artists by Louis Vuitton. The most famous and memorable collaborations are still those with Japanese art “star” Takashi Murakami, but there have been others with the likes of Yayoi Kusama, Stephen Sprouse, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman.
“That Louis Vuitton approached me and also the determination of the artisans to bring this piece to its completed form represents huge respect to me and my artwork,” says the artist. “During the process of testing different materials and colours, I felt that we weren’t just repurposing the artwork, we were actually upgrading it.”
The new object itself, the fashion perspective, a new audience and a new medium, all made it a fascinating project, says Zhao.