An article about Fur Vision 2021 collection and how fur meets street art. Interview with Lenny Vuitton.
When I first time heard name Lenny Vuitton, I thought – who is this? Later, when I checked his Instagram account @lennyvuitton I noticed this bright pink Mickey Mouse painted on a man’s head. On that moment I knew, that I’ve seen it somewhere before. I guess, this is thanks to social media. Yet, a man who has designed a custom Louis Vuitton bag as a baby shower gift for no one less than Cardi B, chooses to stay anonymous. So, who is this mysterious man? Let’s find out now!
Who is Lenny Vuitton and how you became who you are today?
I started as an artist, but I wanted to find something else what I could do beside painting on a canvas. So, I started making clothes although I had no background and I didn’t know how to sew or make clothes. I don’t know how to categorize myself, as an artist or as a fashion designer, so I say maybe both. I must mention thought that my sewing skills are pretty advanced although I started as a painter!
I started branding myself at the end of college, but only after master’s programme in FIT New York in 2018 (The Fashion Institute of Technology) I changed my real name to Lenny Vuitton. The whole point of the programme was to focus on finding my purpose and what I wanted to do. For example, name Lenny Vuitton has nothing to do with the Louis Vuitton. It’s more like a ‘Fuck you to the fashion!’. And my logo is kind of COMME des GARÇONS logo with the crown… So, yes, both my brand and street art are about taking something that is not mine and re-creating and re-mixing it in my own way.
Tell me a little about your background and childhood?
Growing up in Buffalo I always thought I would be working somehow with art, maybe as an architect or so, but I didn’t plan to become a fashion designer, it just happened. I loved painting and do some art since I was a really young kid. My parents say that I was always artistically advanced and talented. My parents always supported me in what I liked to do, and I think that was extremely important. But only later in New York I kind of discovered myself fully.
You live in New York. What is it that you like the most about the city?
I love New York! You never have to worry about what you are wearing, there’s always someone crazier than you are! There’s graffiti all over, it’s like a jungle! The city is just crazy! It never sleeps, never stops… You can go to a new place or a new restaurant every day. You can be different person every day and never repeat. You can go out in the middle of the night and it’s still crazy and something will for sure inspire you! The city offers endless opportunities and you can meet the new people every day. It’s the spot to be when it comes to art and fashion!
What does sustainability mean to you?
My brand has never been sustainability driven, but it’s becoming more and more sustainable than what I ever envisioned. The way I like to work – I like to re-create things and use scraps. For example, in the situation where I don’t have fabric, late at night for example, and only some fabric scraps. And then I think what I can make with these before the fabric store opens tomorrow morning?
Of course, I also took sustainability courses while studying and I got more knowledge about environmental things. These things of course inspire the way I design. For example, while visiting Saga Design Centre I saw these beautiful techniques made with just a small piece of fur and with a zero waist. I loved that idea!
How did you ended up using real fur and has your opining about fur changed during the process?
It all started quite recently in 2019. I’ve never worked with fur before working with you guys (referring to Saga Furs) and it all started with painting on my friend’s head who likes crazy hair. So, I did this Mickey Mouse on his head and many people liked it. Then I showed the photo to my teacher and she was like ‘OMG, this is crazy! Let me introduce you to my friend from the fur industry, maybe you could paint on fur as well.’ The person was working at Saga Furs and then the whole thing started…
The fur has so many mediums and offers endless possibilities. I always thought about fur that it is so luxurious, and I’ve always been against fake fur. I want to paint and do things that people don’t usually expect, so when I got this opportunity to work with Saga Furs I didn’t had to think twice.
I loved my trip to Saga Design Centre last summer but when I came, I had no idea that fur offers so many options and possibilities. When I walked into archives, wow, I was mind-blown!
Tell me about the collaboration with Saga Furs and what are you working now on?
Everything has been great with Saga! Right now, I’m working on a collection which will include several different swatches using sustainable scraps, intarsia, wild colors…I think it’s going to be really cool!
I like people to think ‘How is this done?’ when they look at my design. So, I’m trying to create different illusions and bring intarsia, street art and urban culture into it. Color theme was given by Saga Furs. Prints and techniques are inspired by Design Centre but produced with Funtastic Fur in New York. It will be pretty fun collection, but with also a luxurious and elegant feel to it.
What is the best part about your work or what are the projects you are most proud of?
Some of the most memorable things that I did in fashion…well, a trip to DC was really fun!!! And all the trips through school that I got to take abroad, and all the places fashion has taken me. I have had few items on some celebrities, but at the end of the day these experiences are not that strong as going to Europe for the first time and learning new cultures.
What are you plans for the future?
I plan to keep doing what I’m doing and meeting new people. I want to develop my brand slowly and not to be ‘a success over night’ and then be quickly gone. I want to keep this exclusivity and I want people who has my clothes to feel special. I try to stay small for the time being, stay kind of a niche brand and keep rarity to my clothes and tap into small boutiques.
We’ll see where the life takes me. I just want to work hard and see what doors it opens for me.