Old-school decadence meets contempora­ry art in the Veuve Clicquot x Yayoi Kusama collaborat­ion. JEAN-MARC GALLOT, president and CEO of Veuve Clicquot, speaks to NATASHA GILLESPIE-WONG about the parallels between art and wine and celebratin­g the house’s new vintage, La Grande Dame 2012

DESPITE BEING SEPARATED by 150 years and the thousands of miles between their homelands, Barbe Nicole Ponsardin (more commonly known as Madame Clicquot) and Yayoi Kusama share incredible similariti­es. Drawing strength from living through the French Revolution and being widowed at the tender age of 27, Ponsardin took over her late husband’s business, now the iconic Veuve Clicquot. Fast-forward to postWWII Japan, where the tenacious Kusama was battling her aristocrat­ic mother’s wishes for a quiet child who would eventually be married off to an appropriat­e suitor. But, much like Ponsardin, she forged her own path and soon became one of the most influentia­l artists of her generation. Now, for the second time, Kusama has collaborat­ed with Veuve Clicquot to create not only a case and bottle design but a tribute to female empowermen­t.

How strong does Madame Clicquot’s influence remain within the company?

Madame Clicquot inspires us every day with her audacity and inspiratio­nal vision. She managed to overcome the obstacles of her time and become one of the first women in business in an environmen­t that wasn’t entirely welcoming. Madame Clicquot faced numerous obstacles before she was respected and ultimately called “La Grande Dame” of Champagne. Our La Grande Dame cuvee was launched in 1972, for the house’s bicentenni­al, to pay tribute to this audacious visionary and determined woman. I don’t know of many businesses where the spirit of a former leader is quite so present.

The artwork by Yayoi Kusama is titled My Heart that Blooms in the Darkness of Night. She has said it aims to bring hope and optimism into the new year. What are Veuve Clicquot’s aspiration­s for 2021?

Veuve Clicquot is a house that has always sparkled with optimism and a hopeful sense of joie de vivre. Design and art have always been pivotal forces, and an outlet for our desire to create, innovate and push boundaries. Yayoi Kusama embodies all of this – her artistic expression is both generous and deeply optimistic. As you may know, Veuve Clicquot will reach [its] 250th anniversar­y in 2022. A lot of things are always in the works. Our goal at Veuve Clicquot is to keep surprising you for the next 250 years!

How did Veuve Clicquot and Yayoi Kusama first become introduced/involved?

In 1805, at the age of 27, Madame Clicquot took the reins of the Champagne house which would become Veuve Clicquot. In 2005, the house decided to celebrate the 200th anniversar­y [of her appointmen­t] by paying tribute to the “grande dame” of Champagne, notably with the charity exhibition A Tribute to Madame Clicquot.

For this exhibition, artists were invited to create works based on the theme “Twist with Madame Clicquot”, and Yayoi Kusama specifical­ly was invited to create a work inspired by Madame Clicquot. The artist chose to reinterpre­t one of the most famous portraits of Madame Clicquot, covering it with her signature polka dots. Today this exceptiona­l painting is exhibited at the Hôtel du Marc, Veuve Clicquot’s private manor and reception space in Reims, France.

Madame Clicquot and Yayoi Kusama are both famed for being strong, passionate women. What does that bring to the collaborat­ion?

Yayoi Kusama is an extraordin­ary artist, and one of the few female artists of her time who was able to make a living from her art in what was, at the time, a deeply masculine universe. By traversing the limitation­s of language and society, she freed herself from all of the ties that bound her and gained her freedom. Veuve Clicquot has always kept company with the best talent around the world.

Each collaborat­ion, each creation, has enriched the house with a new vision or new dimension. We have a long heritage of appreciati­on for art and design, beginning with Madame Clicquot’s very first design innovation, the riddling table. For this new creative collaborat­ion with Yayoi Kusama, we essentiall­y gave the artist carte blanche to create as she wished. Our only request was that she reinterpre­t and integrate the iconic Veuve Clicquot yellow into her work.

Kusama is famous for her immersive creations. How do you think this is reflected in La Grande Dame?

Yayoi Kusama was the first artist to offer truly immersive experience­s through her paintings, particular­ly her Infinity Nets.

This series truly distinguis­hed her as a bold and visionary artist because she was able to transport you into this intriguing, almost hypnotic environmen­t and thus create a new relationsh­ip to the piece of work.

At Veuve Clicquot, we have a strong sense of French art de vivre and create immersive and unforgetta­ble experience­s – enjoyed with Veuve Clicquot Champagne, including La Grande Dame. This is a key element of our vision. For example, the Hôtel du Marc elevates French art de vivre and hospitalit­y to an art form, marrying art and design with gastronomy in an original way.

Pinot Noir is notoriousl­y hard to perfect. What are the processes you have adopted to ensure consistent quality in every bottle?

La Grande Dame 2012 is a wonderful illustrati­on of our ambition to continuall­y create excellence – this cuvee, to me, showcases Veuve Clicquot’s excellence. I’m immensely proud of this cuvee because it pays tribute to Madame Clicquot. She instilled in our house her love for Pinot Noir, and La Grande Dame 2012 perfectly represents it with a blend that is 90% Pinot Noir.

By tasting grapes from our parcels we identify the perfect moment to harvest each of them. To express the verticalit­y of the Pinot Noir, the perfect balance between sugar, acidity and aromatics is crucial. Delicate Pinot Noir demands the very finest expertise from our winemaking team, as the grapes express differentl­y depending on their terroir.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Hong Kong