Fashion week: When Fashion Meets Art

This week the Fashion Week is in full swing! This is the opportunity for Artsper to talk again about the connection between the world of contemporary art and that of great fashion designers. Connections that encourage innovation, but can sometimes lead to confusion and debate…

A History of Collaborations

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On the left, the pop-up store and the products from the Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama collaboration.

On the right, the portrait of the Japanese artist ( Courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc., Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo and Victoria Miro, London © Yayoi Kusama)

It is a trend that has become popular in the last fifteen years: contemporary artists are increasingly sought out by big luxurious brands during Fashion Week to make their products into real works of art. Among the most remarkable collaborations, we can mention that of Louis Vuitton and the internationally recognized Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in 2012. This collaboration even gave part to the creation of a Pop-up store entirely designed by the artist! Another example: even if this trend is kind of recent, Dali and the designer Elsa Schiaparelli worked together several times during the 30s, creating sets of completely surreal clothes such as a hat in the shape of a…shoe.

Between a Runway and Contemporary Art: A Performance 

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  Performance for the presentation of Martin Margiela’s collection for H&M, 2012

An excellent contemporary art medium, a performance, has the same essence as a fashion show: they are both ephemeral. This common feature has given the idea to some fashion houses of presenting their collections during Fashion Week by breaking with the traditional codes of runways, and instead creating a real artistic show. This was the case of  Maison Margiela which organized a performance to present their collection for H&M. The performance, which took place in an abandoned building in New York, consisted of models dancing on squares of colored sand… a spectacle with the aim of giving shape and movement to reveal the garment.

A Source of Mutual Inspiration

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Pablo Picasso, Woman in the Hat, 1961, metal, Center Georges Pompidou, Paris

Fashion Show Viktor & Rolf spring-summer 2016

This is another point in common: for artists and creators, everything can be a source of inspiration. This is true for fashion as well, which is regularly inspired by art, as contemporary artist play more and more with the logos of the big brands. For example, the high fashion collection SS16 from Viktor & Rolf which was a tribute to Pablo Picasso’s sculptures.

The Giants of Luxury, Promoters of Contemporary Art

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Louis Vuitton Foundation

The directors of famous luxury fashion brands are for the most part passionate about contemporary art and inveterate collectors. For example, Bernard Arnault, owner of LVMH, is one of the best clients of the FIAC. Promoters of fashion brands increasingly show the pieces of their owners to the public through their foundations, the number of which has grown steadily during the last years. Just to name some examples, we can cite Cartier, Prada, Gucci foundations, and more recently the Vuitton Foundation.

A Relationship that Sparks Debate


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 Yuima Nakazato, High Fashion Collection Fall-Winter 2016-2017

The relationship between art and fashion always sparks debate. There is one question that always pops up: is high fashion art and is the creator therefore an artist with pieces of clothing as his works of art? High fashion runways reflect the creativity, unique style and sensibility that an individual puts into the creation of a garment. The sketches of the greatest designers are sold and displayed on the walls of apartments. More and more frequently the museums are offering retrospectives of the big names in the world of fashion. Karl Lagerfeld argues that high fashion is not art, whilst on the other hand Yves Saint Laurent has a divided opinion. He says high fashion is a profession “which is not completely art, but needs an artist to exist”…

Alas, whilst this debate rages on, let us all enjoy and look forward to the spectacular and explosive moments when the worlds of fashion and art collide!