Fashion and art - long may the happy marriage continue
The healthy relationship has long invigorated both
Whether or not fashion should be considered an art form is doubtless a question that will never be answered, but the crossover between the two worlds is one that is fruitful for all involved.
Indeed, the relationship between art and fashion has long been mutually beneficial as designers take inspiration from past masters and emerging artists. High-brow hook-ups on the fashion pack's radar include the forthcoming menswear collaboration between Louis Vuitton and artists Jake and Dinos Chapman.
Swedish brand Acne has previously collaborated with the portrait photographer the Earl of Snowdon on a shirt collection, book and travelling exhibition. For autumn/winter it presented a collection inspired by the archive of the Musée Galliera in Paris. The artist Katerina Jebb created artworks by scanning historical garments from the museum's archive and using them to construct photo montages - abstract interpretations that show a respectful awareness of history and handicraft.
As well as designers using literal representations of great works of art to add surface decoration and a contextual anchor to collections, brands are increasingly working to create a fuller profile that will inspire their customers.
The annual Serpentine Summer Party, at which the temporary Pavilion installation is revealed, has long been an important event in British society. This year, the party was co-hosted by the designer L'Wren Scott, who days earlier had been in New York to discuss the influence of Gustav Klimt on her autumn/winter collection. The installation, by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, was inspired by the idea of a primitive future, "purposefulness, combining instinctive and imaginative forms of creation".
Not just a visual feast, soon the Pavilion will play host to a programme of Park Nights, consisting of performances, film screenings and talks on selected Friday evenings over the next few months. Supported by COS, this is just the latest artistic collaboration for the intellectual brand in the H&M stable, which has previously sponsored the Frame section of the Frieze Art Fair, supporting galleries under six years old, and worked with the Wapping Project Bookshop.
To mark this new project, the brand has created limited-edition shirts for men and women which go on sale later this month. The former "features small, modern touches that reinvent the classic wardrobe staple," says Martin Andersson, the head of menswear design at COS.
Of the project, he states: "The Serpentine Gallery is world-renowned for its inspiring contemporary-art exhibits and its incredible and unique location in a royal park. We feel extremely privileged to be supporting its work." For their part, Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist, the director and co-director of the gallery, said: "We love COS. We love their style and the things that they like."
The Italian fashion entrepreneur Federico Marchetti has branched out into the world of art, not only through projects such as the one with Magnum Photos on his website Yoox, but also by sponsoring a showcase for the home-grown Venetian talent that often gets overlooked when the art-world circus that is the Biennale rolls into town.
As state support for the arts unravels, collaborations can not only raise a brand in the estimations of its potential customers, but provide a chance to give back. Converse, for example, is so much more than a sneaker brand thanks to its musical connections, but its art-world nous is a lesser-known facet. Entries have just closed on the brand's fourth annual Emerging Artists Award in conjunction with the Whitechapel Gallery and Dazed & Confused.
To be judged by the Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller and the gallerist Sadie Coles, among others, all shortlisted artists receive a cash prize. The highly regarded award aims to "support burgeoning talent at the moment that it needs it most".
Now that's a sentiment that's hard to argue with, whatever your tastes.
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