terça-feira, 19 de julho de 2011

Art is Fashion is Art is... my latest article for Vernissage Magazine

Art is Fashion is Art is... my latest article for Vernissage Magazine: "


Fashion has always turned to the arts for inspiration, while the arts have always loved the fashion world for its avant-gardism. But who benefits the most from this relationship?

The finale of Louis Vuitton’s Spring / Summer 2008 collection by Marc Jacobs featured Richard Prince-inspired nurses cat walking with bags displaying sarcastic sentences from Prince’s trademark. Marc Jacobs’s stunt is still considered as a crucial moment for the fashion and art worlds as it blurred further the frontier between the two disciplines. The collection echoes that of Yves Saint Laurent who in 1965 drew inspiration from Mondrian’s minimalism and designed a dress which is in every fashion enthusiast’s mind. Both have always been interconnected. Shumon Basar, Writer and Chair of the Global Art Forum at the Middle Eastern art fair Art Dubai, who, this year, presented a series of talks and presentations entitled “Fascination: When Art Met Fashion” said about this relationship: “There are many relationships, but perhaps the most potent, and recurrent, are that of mutual admiration and envy. Some areas of the contemporary art-world envy the fashion world's general air of effortless glamour (see Artforum's web-blog 'Scene & Herd': it's the fashion-socialites' sport of people and outfit spotting applied to art world. Art is what happens behind the champagne and expensive haircuts). Conversely the fashion world enjoys brushing up with the so-called 'intelligence' of contemporary art. It's a different kind of glamour. The thing that often glues the two worlds together is rich people who enjoy dipping into both.”

The examples of fashion designers who took inspiration from the arts for their collections are numerous: whether it’s Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Spring / Summer 2010 Haute Couture collection inspired by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, or Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s everlasting love for pop art – he collaborated in the 80’s with the artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and gave a tribute to Leonardo da Vinci and Ingres in his 1992’s collection. John Galliano’s 1999 Spring / Summer ready-to-wear Dior collection featured his interpretation of the “Black square” painting by Malevich, and more recently Oscar de la Renta illustrated his latest 2012 Resort collection with Picasso-inspired patchworks. The list of creative collaborations or “artistic borrowings” is long: Sergio Rossi designer Francesco Russo used 1970’s conceptual artist Claude Viallat’s paintings for his latest boots and bags collection; Rochas designer Marco Zanini visited his mother’s hometown in Sweden to take inspiration from the work of local artist Slotts Barbro; Hermès collaborated in 2011 with French artist Daniel Buren who used his photo archive to create 365 striking patterns for scarves; Shoemaker Bally, who commissions an artist each year to produce capsule collections, is working with Swiss artist Philippe Decrauzat this year; in April 2011 Nicholas Kirkwood released a shoe collection inspired by Keith Haring’s comics; the artist Damien Hirst’s partner Maia Forman, a fashion designer in her own rights, turned to Jim Lambie for her latest collection following previous collaborations with contemporary artists Mat Collishaw and Carsten Höller. There was the 'Double Club' by artist Carsten Hoeller and commissioned by Fondazione Prada. It was a schizophrenic bar/club/restaurant in London that for 6 months and became a much loved hang-out for the well heeled from both the fashion and art worlds. A dual-regional food menu was provided by Sketch. The Double Club broke out of the gallery and became an actual place. The other way around, fashion houses have been asking artists and film-makers to produce short films or adverts. There's been Missoni and Kenneth Anger, Gucci and Chris Cunningham, and before that, they worked with David Lynch.” adds Shumon Basar.


As a result of this mix of disciplines, both figures - of fashion designer and contemporary artist - are blurred. Most of the biggest fashion designers have attended art schools by the way: Christian Lacroix attended L’Ecole du Louvre in Paris, the Dutch duo Viktor&Rolf graduated from the Arnhem Academy of Art and Design in The Netherlands, Hussein Chalayan or Alexander McQueen both attended the Central St Martins College of Art and Design of London, probably the best art school in the world. These fashion designers have always mastered the mix between fashion and art, have often been described as contemporary artists and all had solo-shows in Museums: Christian Lacroix enjoyed a retrospective at the Réattu Museum of Art in the French city where he was born, Arles, Viktor&Rolf’s works were exhibited at the Barbican Gallery of London in 2008, Hussein Chalayan’s at the Design Museum of London in 2009 and Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York in 2011. Interestingly, US Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, has been promoted from honorary member to elective trustee making her a voting member of the board of the MET. This recognizes the fundraising effort she accomplished for the museum for years. Coming up is Marc Jacobs retrospective at Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, which will look at the designer's work for Louis Vuitton since he took over the creative reigns in 1999. This exhibition is said to open in 2012.

Alexander McQueen at the MET

Fashion designers often use the multiple ways of expressions of a contemporary artist in order to increase the means to sell or present their collections resulting in a translation from the fashion designer posture to being considered by experts as artists themselves: Karl Lagerfeld is a protean designer who handles the fashion and interior design of fashion houses Chanel and Fendi as well as the advertising campaigns of these brands. He’s a photographer in his own right and had several gallery shows. Another example includes the former Dior Homme Artistic Director Hedi Slimane who converted into a famous photographer.

Karl Lagerfeld and Hedi Slimane

Throughout the world, fashion is increasingly mixed with the museum world and the number of fashion exhibitions in art museums is inevitably growing, proving once again that fashion and art are inevitably merging into one discipline one would call “art and craft”: 'Cubism and Fashion' at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1999, 'L´Homme Paré' at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 2005, “Chanel”, a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2005, 'New York Fashion Now ' and 'The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957” at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2007 are a few examples.

Both fashion designers and artists yearn for freedom of expression but the big difference is that fashion designers often can’t step away from the brand they represent and from the brief their marketing teams impose on them. A brief that comes from market research companies who pre-empt what the consumers want. Artists therefore seem to enjoy more freedom of expression. In 2011, Nadia Plesner, Danish artist was taken to court for copyright infringement by Louis Vuitton for the image of an emaciated child holding one of their distinctive patterned handbags in her painting called "Darfurnica". This bag was initially commissioned to the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami who re-interpreted the famous LV monogram. A European court ruled in favour of Plesner stating that "the freedom of expression through her work outweighs the protection of property of Vuitton. The brand has been ordered to pay for the artist's legal costs. This also indicates that however nourishing fashion can be for the contemporary artist, this inspiration is often used to mock it. In 1990, the French artist Sylvie Fleury exhibited at the Lausanne-based Rivolta Gallery bronze-made Chanel, Gucci, Kenzo etc. bags. Her work was meant to focus on the concept of a bag as an object, rather than the luxury image conveyed by it. Ironically in 2006 Marc Jacobs reinterpreted these artworks by designing a “Keepall model”, a metallic grey bag directly inspired by Fleury’s work.

Sylvie Fleury - Hermès bag

Louis Vuitton

More than any other fashion houses, Louis Vuitton has always pioneered in promoting the thriving relationship between art and fashion, as it soon understood the positive marketing effects it could have on its business strategy. Fashion can’t be disassociated from the inherent commercial needs. In an interview in the 2011 March / April issue of the art magazine Flash International, Yves Carcelle, CEO of Louis Vuitton explains that “the connection with contemporary art dates back to Louis Vuitton himself, who was a personal friend of Claude Monet. This interaction with artists flourished again in the 80’s, when the company started working with artists such as César, Sol Le Witt and Olivier Debré. When Marc Jacobs joined the house as artistic director in 1997, his own passion for contemporary art turned this into an even greater source of inspiration for the house, giving rise to the now-iconic collaborations with the late Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami, and Richard Prince” as stated before. Other artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Alyson Shotz, Zhan Wang, Michael Lin, Steven Shearer and Xavier Veilhan have created installations for display in the House’s windows.” Last year, the company launched a three-year long support programme for emerging artists in conjunction with five leading London art institutions. The Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation is scheduled to open in 2013 in Paris featuring temporary exhibitions alongside the permanent collection. And it’s not the only Fashion Foundation which supports the arts: the Cartier Foundation, the Hermès Galleries, the Prada Foundation are other examples which prove that beyond fashion, the luxury sector significantly supports the arts and the artists, often through sponsoring. And as a matter of fact, this is not for free but rather for marketing, political or tax reduction purposes. Shumon Basaar adds: I find Louis Vuitton's teaming up with Murakami and Richard Prince too crudely about the brand-value of those artists, even though commercially, they've been extremely successful luxury products.”

Answering the question of which sector benefits more than the other is then rather difficult and probably impossible to find. At least it’s not about to end tomorrow. Asked to conclude about it, Shumon Basar confirms: “it’s hard to measure. But one practical benefit has been the establishment of art-centres by fashion houses, such as Cartier in Paris, Prada in Milan and Hermès in Tokyo. They've often sought to help produce new works, thus act as commissioners. More prosaically, fashion houses often sponsor major art exhibitions - and this counts for something in an age where public funding diminishes or is negligible and private money is crucial. Of course, everyone 'benefits' from fashion hosted parties.”

Also found here: http://vernissage.tv/blog/2011/06/13/vernissagetv-pdf-magazine-no-17/

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