Louis Vuitton meets Eine and a Shoreditch street art tour

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When I posted about the Eine X Louis Vuitton scarf a couple of weeks ago, it was really hard to find out any info. That’s because it hadn’t been launched yet. I’d seen a snippet in Red magazine and that was pretty much all. In fact, the scarf launches today, exclusively at Selfridges, Oxford Street for one week, sold in the new ground floor Louis Vuitton accessories pop-up. (Not to be confused with the pop-up on the second floor.)

To celebrate, Louis Vuitton invited a group of bloggers on a mini-tour of some of Eine’s East London on-site works, hosted by Ben Eine’s friend and gallerist, Cassius Colman. I don’t know a lot about Eine the street artist. Ben Eine to me is ‘skate boarder Ben’ (real name Ben Flynn), a fellow 90s clubbing mate who used to take his skateboard to the various Soho haunts where we hung out. Years later I would see typographic letters graffitied on security shutters around Shoreditch spelling out EINE, but I didn’t know what they meant. I didn’t know Eine was a big deal on the London street art circuit, that he was a collaborator of Banksy and that David Cameron gifted one of his works to president Obama in 2010. All this I learnt from Cassius Colman over lunch, then photo ops (plus the odd Instagram video) with Susie Bubble, Shini Park, Betty Autier from Le Blog De Betty and street art blogger Mark Rigney, alongside Eine’s work last Friday afternoon…

We started with this piece in Old Street called ‘Worth More’. It was commissioned by a charity to raise awareness of knife crime in the area. As well as being a typography fanatic, Eine is a brilliant colourist. Don’t Shini and Susie complement the work rather nicely?

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These are two long parallel walls on the side of The Tea Building and the LondonNewcastle gallery. The pieces spell ‘Extortionists’ and ‘Protagonists’, but you have to stand in a certain spot to read them properly. ‘Protagonists’ started life as ‘Pro Pro Pro’ and was commissioned by the Mother ad agency whose offices are in the building. They asked if Eine wanted to spruce up his work so he turned this piece into ‘Protagonists’. While Eine started off painting metal shutters with his typographic letters (wearing a hi vis jacket and painting with a brush so as to look legit), he has progressed to large scale works using stencils, spray paint and assistants. When you consider these works close up, it’s quite a feat really. These are rarely flat walls and you have to consider scale and perspective for maximum impact…

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This is a wall I pass all the time. It’s weird how many of these pieces have become just a part of the Shoreditch landscape. Even though Eine is adamant that graffiti and street art by their very nature are impermanent and expected to be painted over, he has built relationships with building owners who encourage him to express himself on their walls. There were lots of people taking photos of these Eine walls. Cassius Colman puts the success of street art down to the boom in internet photo sharing, especially with the growth of smartphones and Instagram…
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This piece in Middlesex Street is my favourite work and amusingly, had a police car parked in front of it when we arrived. The letters spell out ‘Sell the house, sell the kids, sell the wife’ – a reference to Apocalypse Now and a commentary on the 2007 financial meltdown (Shoreditch is next to the financial district in East London). The random looking letters in the background spell out the names of Eine’s friends. I think there’s something playful and a bit Peter Blake-ish about this…
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The tour culminated with a chance to see Ben in action at Selfridges. Having roughed out his stencil letters, he was just starting to mark out the paint to recreate his scarf design on a wall of the Selfridges pop-up (he projected the design on the wall as a guide). Time was of the essence as London-born Eine now lives in San Francisco and had only three days to complete the work. We talked about the scarf and how the design differed to his usual street pieces. Called ‘Great Adventures’ (in keeping with Vuitton’s travel heritage), Eine has considered it in repeat triangular sections to allow for the way a scarf is worn. It does look equally impressive as a flat piece, no?

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The giant Eine X Louis Vuitton Great Adventures scarf is available at Selfridges until 1st July. It measures 136cm x 136cm and costs £465.

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