four of the most memorable fashion x art crossovers

Why worry over having your life look like a work of art when you can just wear one instead?

by Mahoro Seward
23 July 2019, 7:00am

Photography Mitchell Sams. S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. 

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Oscar Wilde once wrote that “one should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.” Recognising that there’s little most of us can do to make our bodies look like Greek sculptures, fashion has opted to help us achieve the latter, with spring/summer 20’s menswear shows filled with art-inspired optioned to clothe our tired bodies with. In Paris, Undercover continued its collaboration with iconic self-portraitist Cindy Sherman, while the prints on show at Jacquemus’s frolic in the lavender fields of his native Provence called the paintings of David Hockney and Paul Cézanne to mind. Before that in Florence, painter and long-time Raf Simons collaborator Sterling Ruby debuted his latest fashion venture, S.R STUDIO.LA.CA, to acclaim. But, though the trend for the cross-pollination of art and fashion may be at fever-pitch, there’s a lengthy history of the two exclusive disciplines borrowing from and paying tribute to one another. Here’s a lookback on some of the most memorable art-fashion flirtations in recent times.

Louis Vuitton x Takashi Murakami
If there were a contest for the title of most committed fashion brand to art, Louis Vuitton would be in with a solid chance of winning. Spearheaded as a means of attracting a younger, fresher clientele by then-creative director Marc Jacobs in 2001, the house’s artist collaborations invigorated the house with the pop-cultural relevance it continues to enjoy today. Artists to have been tapped by the brand’s accessories department include Stephen Sprouse, Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman, but none of these collaborative ventures have had quite as great an effect on popular culture as that between Vuitton and Takashi Murakami. Initiated in 2003, the partnership spawned some of the most iconic it-bags of the early noughties, most notably in the form of the Japanese artist’s polychrome take on the house’s hallowed monogram. Sported by any Valley girl worth her Motorola Razr, the bag is a stand-in for that era of shamelessly tacky luxury we all pine after. Other greatest hits from the 13-year relationship between the artist and the house include ‘Monogramouflage’ and the ‘Cherry Blossom’ style Britney ripped off for the dashboard of her car in the video for Do Something. Legal action, obviously, ensued. If a Britney bootleg isn’t a mark of success, what is?

Jacquemus x Chloe Wise
New York-based multimedia artist Chloe Wise is no stranger to fashion, first making a name for her punny ‘bread bags’, oil-painted wearable sculptures in the form of various baked goods. Bagel No. 5, a bagel sculpture accessorised with fake Chanel hardware, earned particular notoriety when actress India Menuez wore it to a dinner hosted by the brand. In recent times, however, her relationship with fashion has taken on a more formal tone. Now she's known for her painting, which blurs the boundaries of still life and portraiture with its warm humour, flirtatiousness and glossy hues. It made perfect sense when Simon Porte Jacquemus announced the pair’s collaboration on the campaign for the Provençal designer’s spring/summer 19 collection, La Riviera. Bucking the trend for photographed campaigns, Wise’s painting depicts a crop-bobbed belle dame leant against a balustrade, dressed in a tangerine bathing suit and a white satin jacket draped off the shoulder. An emerald green mock-croc belt bag is cinched delicately around her waist, while her hand cradles a generous glass of what, given the Côte d’Azur setting, we can safely assume to be a chilled rosé. All of this plays out against an unbroken two-tone horizon of cerulean sky and deep, Mediterranean blue.

Raf Simons x Sterling Ruby for Dior Haute Couture
Deserving of a mention if only for the sheer technical insanity it entailed, this is without doubt the highest brow pairing on our list. Long before Sterling Ruby’s solo venture at Pitti, he enjoyed a lengthy collaborative relationship with Raf. On his appointment to the creative director’s seat at Dior, his first collection saw him take on the holy grail of dressmaking, haute couture. Simons insisted on interpreting Ruby’s richly textured paintings in the collection, setting the ateliers to work on what is perhaps one of the most daring stunts in modern fashion history. As those that have seen Dior & I will remember, the Flemish designer wasn’t satisfied with the depth of colour that simply printing the paintings onto the material would offer. Instead, he insisted on developing fabrics to replicate the layered complexities of the paintings themselves. Needless to say, Dior’s esteemed petites mains weren’t initially best pleased with his plans given the tight time frame, but the gamble paid off, with the resulting dresses helping to cement the maison as the authority in contemporary couture.

CDG Shirt x Basquiat
For spring/summer 87, Jean-Michel Basquiat, at the height of his living fame, walked the for a then-on-the-up Comme des Garçons. The artist, a well-known fan of the brand, made two appearances on the runway, both times in grey double breasted suits, a fitting styling choice given Basquiat’s penchant for painting in Armani tailoring. Just over thirty years later, CDG Shirt paired up with the late painter’s estate to commemorate the relationship between two of the era-defining creative forces. A limited edition series of shirts printed with some of the artists most iconic works, like Cabeza and Ernok. Those still hoping to get their hands on the capsule collection are, however, in for some disappointment -- and given the limited production run and cult status of both the brand and the artist, you’ll almost have as much luck bidding on an original Basquiat as you will trying to find a reasonably priced piece at resale.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Raf Simons
Sterling Ruby