It’s a different world – or is it?
Try as they might, art and fashion are two worlds that can’t seem to separate from one another. From Tom Sachs and his Chanel-branded range of weaponry to Elmgreen & Dragset’s desert-located “Prada Marfa” sculpture, artists have always turned to fashion as a source for inspiration and social commentary. This connection is not one sided, however, and fashion has a history of borrowing from art just the same.
Whether gaining inspiration from a classic work or inviting the artist for a turn on the catwalk, fashion designers continue to view artists as potential catalysts for the next big trend. We reminisce on the everlasting bond between art and fashion by exploring some of the most successful collaborations throughout history.
When artist becomes muse
Though most artists prefer to maintain a certain level of anonymity and let their work do the talking, their eccentricities can oftentimes garner attention from fashion designers on the hunt for a muse. In 1987, Jean-Michel Basquiat channeled his inner supermodel and walked the runway for Comme Des Garçons’ SS87 presentation.
Nearly 30 years later, and the fashion industry continues to find itself awe-stricken by the eccentric ways in which artists present themselves. Earlier this year, photographer Petra Collins found herself on the other side of the camera and even on the catwalk for Gucci’s AW16 collection. Her signature ’70s-inspired hairstyle, a voluminously beautiful mess of blonde curls, was a perfect fit for Alessandro Michele’s disco-themed designs.
Artists aren’t the only cultural figures to find themselves in a high-fashion campaign. Led by Brioni’s ex-creative director Justin O’Shea, Hans Ulrich Obrist joined artist Collier Schorr to star in a campaign for the Italian label earlier this spring. Voted last week by ArtReview as the most powerful person in art, it goes to show that if you want to build a bridge between fashion and art, sometimes its wiser to look beyond the artist.
If 2016 is any sign, the trend of artist-as-model won’t be going away anytime soon. Another memorable art-fashion crossover from this year saw Juliana Huxtable in a series of campaign photos for the Kenzo x H&M collab. Photographer and BFF to Frank Ocean, Wolfgang Tillmans even got in on the action as he teamed up with Hood by Air in their porn-inspired runway presentation earlier this autumn.
The artists who’ve got it in the bag
For the artists who prefer not to step on the runway, many of fashion’s biggest creative directors are more than welcome to receive a little help in the realm of handbag design. Small and mighty, these limited edition accessories add just the right amount of artistic flair to a collection without going overboard.
French fashion house Louis Vuitton regularly lends its iconic monogrammed handbags as a blank canvas for artists to work with. From Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti-scrawled designs to Takashi Murakami‘s poppy illustrations, a diverse range of creatives have all had the opportunity to reimagine the brand’s luxury leather goods into contemporary works of art. In 2012, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama offered her talents, resulting in a range of clothing and accessories marked with her famous polka dotted patterns. Louis Vuitton even had the artist create a pop-up space inside London’s Selfridges department store.
Tracey Emin of YBA fame is another artist who can put accessories designer on her resume, as the artist worked with Longchamp to create a line entitled “Tracey Emin 4 Longchamp”. The ornate handbag collection featured feminine florals and ribbons, with Emin’s signature heartfelt works embroidered on each side.
The enduring inspiration of art
Contemporary artists are not the only creatives to inspire the fashion industry. Many of history’s most groundbreaking artists continue to influence designers, with entire collections dedicated to painters long gone. In 1965, Yves Saint Laurent debuted a series of ensembles donning the bold prints made famous by Piet Mondrian. And long before Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” could inspire an emoji, it was printed on a dress by John Galliano for Christian Dior’s SS07 couture collection.
Though the examples above are just a few, they go to show that when it comes to art and fashion, the two have a bond that will never really go away.