City whimsy: Ruben Toledo’s limited edition portfolios for Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton has released 30 limited edition portfolios featuring Ruben Toledo’s most iconic travel illustrations. The pieces pay tribute to the Cuban-American artist’s whimsical paintings of cityscapes from Paris to his hometown New York for the famous fashion brand’s travel guides.
’I’m like a caveman just drawing the beautiful deer racing by,’ says Toledo. ’Drawing to me is very instinctive. I notice an outline first and I get that down fast before all the other details.’
The numbered and signed portfolios comprise fifteen drawings showcasing Toledo’s idiosyncratic elegant silhouettes printed on pure cotton paper. Alongside this is a monograph of 108 illustrations created for Louis Vuitton’s city guides from 2000 to 2012, presented in a drawing box hand-painted by the artist.
’The drawings are a portrait of each city,’ explains Toledo. ’It is like a person, I notice what is interesting about them and what has an energy.’
Toledo’s family fled Cuba in the late 1960s and despite ’only about a month at art school,’ the young artist began designing windows for Italian fashion brand Fiorucci before being discovered by Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. His prolific career since ranges from designing mannequins and fabrics to creating illustrations for Vogue and The New York Times, and more recently, stage sets for Broadway theatrical productions.
When it comes to his favourite city, Toledo says he has a passion for New York where he lives and works in a turn of the century, four-storey Manhattan penthouse with his fashion designer wife, Isabel. He also admits to a particular affinity with Japan, an illustration of which is included in the portfolio alongside Hong Kong, Miami and Moscow.
’I love its outdoor spaces, the gardens and secret alleyways. That’s the thing about great cities, they naturally weave a porous culture and even without having connections there it becomes part of your life.’