Alexander Fury: Zombie teddy bear slippers? This is art, for fashion’s sake

Wear, what, why, when?

A retrospective of the artist Francesco Vezzoli opened in Rome last week.

This seems like an odd thing to reference in a fashion column – but Vezzoli’s work is obsessed with fashion. He’s shot a  self-portrait alongside Sixties’ übermodel Veruschka, depicted Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista and Stephanie Seymour as Madonnas with child, and even created his own perfume, Greed, showcased in a 2009 “advertisement” directed by Roman Polanski and starring Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams. It hardly matters that the perfume didn’t exist – the campaign was worthy of Dior or Chanel.

Vezzoli’s relationship with the fashion industry isn’t one-sided: Miuccia Prada is a fan, hence he sits front row at her shows. He also collaborated with the label on a 24-hour museum, which ran (you guessed it) for 24 hours between 24-25 January 2012. All that got me thinking about just how much the relationship between fashion and art has blurred. I’m not one of those tub-thumpers who insist that fashion is art – far from it. But there are interesting occurrences when the two collide and luckily it’s moved beyond printing a Van Gogh or a Warhol across  a T-shirt.

Ms Prada is a prime example – she collects contemporary art. When I say “collects”, I mean she has established the Fondazione Prada, staging biannual shows in the same monolithic concrete space in Milan used for the label’s catwalk shows. Last time I went to Prada HQ in the city, I was confronted by a huge pickled animal, courtesy of Damien Hirst, in a white hall that felt more Prado than Prada.

That tug between art and fashion also manifested itself  especially eloquently  on the catwalk for autumn/winter 2013.  Raf Simons partnered with the Warhol Foundation to reproduce Andy’s delicate Fifties’ sketches on bags and chiffon  gowns, inspired by Monsieur Dior’s first wish to be a gallerist (alas, stymied by the Great Depression).

At the other end of the spectrum, Kim Jones of Louis Vuitton – always a fan of a high-art collab – worked with the Chapman brothers, who devised conventional, flowery chintz prints peopled with  distinctly unconventional grotesques.  And some terribly Chapmanian zombie teddy-bear slippers that would be equally at home in Selfridges or the Saatchi.

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