Faye McLeod and International Women’s Day
Faye McLeod and International Women’s Day
In honor of International Women’s Day, we spoke with Faye McLeod, Visual Image Director at Louis Vuitton. We are inspired by McLeod’s extraordinary leadership, ingenuity and ability to convey the iconic Maison’s seasonal visions in a meaningful and highly conceptual way. Read our Q&A for an exclusive glimpse into her kind and impeccably curated, creative world.
Describe what you do at Louis Vuitton. How many people comprise your team and how many store displays are you responsible for?
My role is to dream up creative ideas for Louis Vuitton’s global windows and then to make those dreams a reality. In our studios in London and Paris we create, design and produce all of the work for our 470 Network stores and 12 Maison stores. We come up with and develop around 30/40 concepts a year of which 15 get validated. We are constantly challenging ourselves to do better, to be different, to exceed expectations and have more fun.
How do you plan on celebrating International Women’s Day personally and professionally at Louis Vuitton?
I work alongside incredibly dynamic women and men and celebrate them every day, so March 8th will be more of the same! Its Sophie’s birthday (our studio director) so I’m guessing with some flowers and a wee happy birthday song to start off the day! If at all possible I’ll probably try to get a Taryn Tomney class in as I love starting my days that way….now that’s an impressive woman in New York City if you haven’t taken a class then you should….dance it out and scream at the top of your lungs.
You’ve worked with the likes of Frank Gehry and Yayoi Kusama. Who are some of your favourite creative collaborators, past-or-present, at Louis Vuitton?
I love collaboration and find it so inspiring. I think that an intrinsic part of my role is to collaborate and push boundaries. I try to do this whilst having fun and also with kindness….my team are so amazing they take the art of collaboration to new heights and are always surprising me with new ideas and their agility. Right now I am collaborating with Es Devlin who is an incredibly inspiring woman, creative and friend. Working with Virgil is blowing my mind daily. Working with Marc Jacobs was a big moment for me; he pushed me to a creative level I never knew I had in me….now that was fun.
How do you think about the different ways in which your work will be encountered or interacted with, especially on digital and social versus in-person or on the street? How does this impact your visual process?
The starting point for me is always how the passerby will discover our windows, what emotions they will inspire. The rest follows naturally. Windows are a totally democratic space, there is no barrier to entry and therefore should engage and inspire everyone who passes by, even if only for a moment.
What is your all-time favourite campaign? What made it so special for you?
I loved Louis Vuitton Yayoi Kusama windows as Yayoi was a dream to work with. We created windows that had a “real-life” sculpture of Yayoi Kusama in – they were so realistic that we had people in the crowds outside convinced it was really her, and that she was blinking! To see that immediate, visceral almost childlike response was so satisfying. We also turned the Fifth Avenue store into a giant tentacle!
We loved Virgil Abloh’s holographic sculpture “Rainbow Man” at the Louis Vuitton flagship store on 57th and Fifth Avenue in NYC. What was it like to install it in the middle of midtown Manhattan?
It was a joy to create this campaign with Virgil. From the moment we saw the show at the Palais Royale, which was so extraordinary, magical and emotional we knew that we had to create a launch for this collection which had some of that magic. We actually created a few “giants” in 2d and even in 3d – and they had to be installed in some pretty tricky conditions, but our brilliant local teams outdid themselves and for the month of January it felt like the world was full of Virgil’s rainbow giants.
What’s the most technically difficult installation you’ve pulled off?
That has to be building a train inside the Cour Carrée Du Louvre that pulled out of the station when the clock struck 10.10 in Paris for Marc Jacobs Louis Vuitton show set, it was a magical moment I’ll remember all my life….it showed me what true teamwork was, and I made lifelong friends on that show. Marc has on numerous occasions since reminded me that we built a working train, in under a week!
What inspires you most about the women you work with at Louis Vuitton?
I have attracted kind, strong minded, focused woman in our studio who speak their truth and follow their vision. I’m a very lucky woman to be surrounded by such amazing talents. And we also have some pretty incredible men working here too: in particular Ansel Thompson, my closest collaborator and friend of fifteen years.