Cultured Magazine

Winter 2012

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LVCullturedMiamiDec_Layout 1 11/21/12 1:30 PM Page 82 BRANDED Graffiti artist RETNA leaves his mark on Miami with a little help from Louis Vuitton. BY HUNTER BRAITHWAITE Miami graffiti artist RETNA's nom de fume comes from a line in the Wu-Tang Clan song "Heaterz." Like the rap group's heavily coded lyrics, RETNA's compositions, which have been compared to hieroglyphs, runes and gang signs, impress while muffling any attempts at understanding. But in a recent work, two new characters appear—the "L" and the "V" of a certain Parisian fashion house. Yes, Louis Vuitton has commissioned RETNA (né Marquis Lewis) as the first artist to design the exterior of one of its stores. With the façade of the brand's temporary home on 40th Street in the Miami Design District as his canvas, RETNA translated the iconic logo into his patented script, beginning with magenta on the left-hand side and slowly fading into a teal blue on the right. For RETNA, who has steadily climbed the ranks of urban artists (he currently has seven murals in Miami alone), being endorsed by the fashion house is like "being blessed by one of the greats, being crowned," he says. Over the past decade, Louis Vuitton has enlisted the creativity of a variety of artists, including Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince and Yayoi Kusama, to design accessories and other special edition products. But these artists have all achieved mainstream acceptance and success, so the pact with RETNA signals a more daring approach for the fashion house as it seeks to expand into new corners of the global market. "It is part of our pioneering spirit," says Valérie Chapoulaud-Floquet, president and CEO of Louis Vuitton North America. "We think we're going to be able to communicate with a very different clientele who is younger, more trendy and very involved with art and culture." RETNA also designed a scarf for the fashion house, as well as three works for the Design District boutique's second-level VIP salon. RETNA is also just as clear eyed about his new venture, summing up the curious relationship between graffiti and luxury quite simply. "We're brands, too." 82 CULTURED "We think we're going to be able to communicate with a clientele who is very involved with art and culture." -Valérie Chapoulaud-Floquet IMAGE COURTESY OF LOUIS VUITTON The new temporary home of Louis Vuitton in the Design District features a façade by RETNA.

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