TOUCH WOOD: Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone has called on Louis Vuitton to create the “green habit” for his induction into France’s Académie des Beaux-Arts, one of the five arms of cultural institution the Institut de France, this October.
The house’s menswear studio created an original embroidery in green and gold tones using six different colors of silk thread inspired by the olive branch — the symbol of the institution — reinterpreted to evoke the natural aspect of Penone’s work, which explores and seeks to assimilate the natural world, especially trees.
The bespoke design and its placement took around 100 hours, and 500 hours of work were needed to complete the costume, comprised of a tail coat, white shirt, white waistcoat and tuxedo pants, as well as the ceremonial scabbard that is part of the uniform.
The embroidery is adorned with a gilded metal thread made by Blanchard, a company with “living heritage” status based in the Ardèche, in the South of France.
Penone will be inducted into the Academy on Oct. 18 by one of his peers, sculptor Jean Anguera. He will be awarded with his academician’s sword – appropriately made from wood and designed by the artist himself – by Pietro Beccari, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton.
The pair are no strangers. When Beccari was the head of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton stablemate Fendi in 2017, the brand commissioned Penone to create a permanent sculpture to stand outside the Palazzo Fendi in Rome’s Largo Goldoni.
Turin-based Penone was born in 1947 and has been active since 1967, creating sculptures and installations exploring the relationship between nature and the creative process. His early work is often associated with the Arte Povera movement. His sculptures combine a selection of materials such as wood, wax, leather, marble and bronze, drawn by the transformative forces of nature. His work is displayed in prestigious museums around the world, from the Tate in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris or the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.