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When Art Becomes Fashion


You scout the whose wearing what list, the latest outfits worn by Kate and Pippa Middleton which are sending the websites into meltdown, and that “interesting” article on the must have accessory for poodles.

You turn over the page, and stop in your tracks…

“What’s this? This is different,” you say to yourself. You recognise the distinctive style, the typeface, the beautiful artwork which jumps out at you. Can it be? Am I really seeing this?

You grab your iPad and check the Nelly Duff website. Yes, low and behold, there staring at you is Ben Eine’s, ‘Shutter font numbers’, black print, the exact print which you have just seen on a Louis Vuitton scarf! You sit back, stunned into silence, to learn that Ben Eine and Louis Vuitton are courting, perhaps not courting but definitely on first date territory with this scarf collaboration.

What does this mean? How did this happen? When did art become fashion? You ask yourself. You press the pause button. The deafening noise of the builder disappears as silence now descends around you. You remind yourself that this is not the first time Louis Vuitton have courted an artist (Takashi Murakami and Daniel Buren – to name but two). Indeed you recall how fashion has been courting art on and off for some time, from Damien Hirst and Levis, to Tracy Emin and Banjo & Matilda.

You think to yourself; “How strange. It’s usually been the other way round, with art courting fashion and the fashionable people.”
You recall the iconic Andy Warhol screen print of a young Yves Saint Laurent; Gary Hume’s play on ‘Beautiful’ morphing Kate Moss and Michael Jackson into one. You smile as you recall Manet’s exhibition at the Royal Academy, how you were blown away by his ability to capture the movement of the clothing. The drape, oh the wonderful drape, he captured of the skirts, dancing around the bodies of his subjects; bringing their clothes to life. Out of the corner of your eye, you spy an old friend, your Hermes scarf. You stare lovingly at this piece of beauty, scrutinising each element in detail. You realise your love of this inanimate thing is drawn from the artwork, the human element which has given it life. Somewhere in the world, an artist had sat down in his / her studio and painted a wonderful piece of art, and this art now gives this garment its soul.
By Edouard Manet

You smile, as you recognise the innate strong connection that has always existed between art and fashion. The first day when you wore your Hermes scarf, the day when you truly fell in love with it was when it breathed into life. You recall how like a curator, you wrapped this garment carefully around your neck, analysing the best angle to display its beauty to the hungry public, when all of a sudden a gust of wind fanned the scarf into action. Dancing, and prancing into the open air, the art came to life. The open air gallery providing the perfect backdrop to exhibit the hidden beauties of the artwork. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, you muse, if art could be shared like this, away from the confines of a gallery, away from the fixed four walls and brought to life by people outside, brought to a whole new audience? Would this be a new interpretation of “Outside Art”?
You picture, a whole new audience who have yet to discover Dali, Manet, Litchtenstein, Patrick Caulfield, and Gary Hume. Imagine their paintings on clothing. Imagine how you would interpret their works? Open air public galleries for all to view the art, as they lift and whip into life, dancing around their muses.

You now understand why art and fashion will court and marry each other, it is inevitable. The beauty of clothing, the beauty of the movement of people brings another dimension to art, an opportunity to see art perform in a different light, an opportunity to quite literally wrap yourself in and with art, and bring art to a new audience.

You conclude, perhaps Louis Vuitton and Eine are on to something after all.
Words By Midula Dey