Ever since Saint Laurent developed his iconic Mondrian shift dress in 1965, many of the largest international design houses have collaborated with major visual artists such as Sterling Ruby, Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst and Yayoi Kusama, while others frequently lease images from the estates of pop artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat. In 2008, Louis Vuitton celebrated artist Richard Prince’s first solo show at the Serpentine Gallery in the UK with the Jamais bag; a special limited edition version of Prince’s Louis Vuitton spring line. MOCA Chief Curator, Paul Schimmel told reporters that “people have touched base with the play between the commercial arena and high art, but this is a little more confrontational.”
“Art Meets Fashion” is an ongoing philosophy that has long been a method of democratizing the visual arts sphere, making it accessible for a wider audience. Art is intensely personal and often kept exclusive by the museum and collector based structures of the art world, whereas fashion is an outlet available to all. Artist/designer creative collaborations make visual art available on a platform that has the capability to reach millions of people, rather than stopping short at a select few. Within the ethos of “Art Meets Fashion”, two energies become one, and we all benefit from it.
We now live in a world where Richard Prince, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons create works explicitly for the runway, the rack and even the e-commerce stores. But what has changed in the estimation of fine art? Doesn’t Richard Prince continue to make what he will alongside his commercial endeavors? Doesn’t Damien Hirst continue to crank out the same prodigious collections of derivative works? And Jeff Koons, while designing mugs for Illy and bottles of perfume is, and will always be, the same Jeff Koons?
Within art and fashion collaborations there is a blurring of lines. There are moments when designers become artists, artists become designers, or both entities becomes something different entirely. Fine arts and fashion design are not only bearing the effects of trend and social temperature, but their changing relationship with one another is also reflecting the wider characteristics of society as a whole. Perhaps some interventions and collaborations are more successful than others, but what is primarily important is the dabbling, the mixing, and the fantastical results that come from the fanciful play of privileged creatives.
In this “Art Meets Fashion” exhibition at Eden Rock, we see the work of a variety of artists presented through fashion. Taking centre stage are pieces designed by Jean Charles de Castelbajac, whose fans range from Lady Gaga to the Pope, Alessandra d’Urso, the ultimate in tough-meets-tender photography, Maripol, the Polaroid-armed driving force of the 1980’s New York art scene, Thomas Lélu, whose work playfully dissects what we call the “art object”, Blair Chivers, positive psychologist in the making, Robert Montgomery, working in a markedly post-Situationist tradition, Kolkoz, whose two brains and four hands form one thought-provoking artistic mind, and Ruiz Stephinson, whose work forms a material harbor for our whimsical dreams.