Faye McLeod

By
Photography Grant Delin

Published February 23, 2016

In 2012, Faye McLeod wrapped Louis Vuitton’s Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York in undulating bands of black polka dots of various sizes. The occasion: the brand’s collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Wavy, larger-than-life tentacle forms, also printed with dots (a riff on Kusama’s Dots Obsession work), snaked in the vitrines facing the street, inviting passersby into a kaleidoscopic, Alice in Wonderland-like circus with a life-size mannequin of Kusama, holding a handbag, as the ringleader. McLeod’s official title is Vuitton’s visual image director, but what she does is more akin to theatrical wizardry at its most democratic. “For me, it’s really about storytelling,” McLeod says. “It becomes an instinctual art. You have that reaction. People are either up against the glass or their iPhones are out.”

Since joining Vuitton in 2009 (previously she worked at Topshop and Selfridges), the Glasgow native, 43, has dreamed up the window designs for the brand’s 467 outposts around the world with her New York-based team. A new sumptuous volume from Assouline, Louis Vuitton Windows, takes stock of the displays made under her tenure at the maison, assembling a comprehensive archive of the brand’s recent visual history. McLeod’s approach is to mix a healthy dose of “cheek,” as she describes it, into the immaculately staged tableaux, incorporating gilded dinosaur skeletons, leaping rabbits, and looping roller coasters into tricked-out mise-en-scènes. “I’m not very good with rules,” she says. “We have freedom to create. It’s something that I’m always careful with and hold precious.”