Veuve Clicquot’s Grande Dame 2012 Collab Is a Celebration of Powerful Women

There were few (if any) women-led businesses in France when Barbe-Nicole Clicquot took over the Veuve Clicquot winery in 1805. In those days, women weren’t allowed to open bank accounts, let alone helm multinational corporations, but after the death of Madame Clicquot’s husband — the son of the maison’s founder — she did it anyway. In the decades that followed, Clicquot proved herself to be not just a savvy businesswoman but a true pioneer, blazing a trail for women in the business world while creating one of the world’s most famous Champagne brands. More than two centuries later, Veuve Clicquot’s yellow label (a Madame Clicquot introduction) is synonymous with luxury — and its fine, silky bubbles are coveted around the globe.

Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929, more than a century after Madame Clicquot, but there’s no doubt that the Japanese artist is cut from the same cloth. Both women were born into privilege in societies where women had few freedoms outside of the home. Both were visionaries who were determined to make their mark on the world, and both made names for themselves — and led the way for women who came after — in male-dominated fields.

This synergy, along with Kusama’s signature effervescent aesthetic, made her the perfect collaborator for La Grande Dame 2012, Veuve Clicquot’s latest vintage Champagne release. In addition to creating a unique case and bottle in her hallmark polka-dot print, Kusama also designed a numbered limited-edition sculpture titled My Heart That Blooms in the Darkness of The Night. A tribute to the natural world, which is a fertile source of inspiration for both Kusama and the winemakers at Veuve Clicquot, the sculpture is limited to 100 pieces and is designed to wrap around magnums of La Grand Dame 2012.

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2012 Champagne box

Madame Clicquot took charge of Veuve Clicquot at the age of 27, and Kusama was just a year older when she left Japan for New York with dreams of making it there as an artist. “I promised myself that I would conquer New York and make my name in the world with my passion for the arts and my creative energy,” Kusama has said of that period. To realize her dream, she spent the next 15 years working, learning, and feverishly creating — sometimes painting for days at a stretch. She organized happenings at MoMA, created an avant-garde fashion brand, and earned herself a spot at the Venice Biennale before ill health forced her to return to Japan in the 1970s, where she continues her work to this day.

While Kusama was successful in those early years, it wasn’t until the 21st century that she became recognized as the superstar she is today, with marquee exhibitions at the world’s most respected modern art museums.

Like Kusama, Madame Clicquot had to work hard to gain the respect of her peers, and her vision was equally expansive. “I wish my brand to rank first from New York to St. Petersburg,” she wrote in one of the thousands of letters now preserved in Veuve Clicquot’s archives. With a shrewd eye for business and a keen understanding of marketing that was ahead of her time, she succeeded in making Veuve Clicquot world-famous, revolutionizing the Champagne industry by creating the first known vintage Champagne and popularizing the “Maubeuge” bottle that most Champagne is sold in today.

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2012 Champagne bottle

A bottle of Veuve Clicquot is the product of countless skilled hands, from the vineyards to the pressing centres to the cellars — as different as can be from a single canvas or sculpture created by an individual over days or weeks. But both achievements are worth celebrating, particularly in the case of Madame Clicquot and Yayoi Kusama, who overcame immense challenges to put their mark on the world. In fact, should you wish to toast the legacy of these pioneering women, Veuve Clicquot has just the bottle.