Sipping blackberry mojitos and the listening to the melodious tunes of Sunday Girl on Tuesday evening, we entered a mirrored space to witness the Jimmy Choo and Rob Pruitt collaboration collection. And despite the kaleidoscope colours and bejewelled cherubic pandas, there was a sense of Jimmy Choo familiarity. The sharp-edged stiletto heels and the ultra-feminine cuts were all in Choo proportion; strangely, it fit!
While Karl Lagerfeld believes fashion as art is second-rate, it makes sense that designers find inspiration outside the fashion houses, particularly from the conceptual minds of modern and contemporary artists. Of course, the mingling of the fashion and art worlds is far from new; in fact, it’s as old as fashion itself, from Elsa Schiaparelli lunching with Dali to the, er, 'starved' art student in Christopher Kane.
Fast-forward to the contemporary world, and these two worlds are now closer than ever, branding themselves both as anarchists and perpetuators of social hierarchy (Damien Hirst’s £50,000 jeans for Levi’s comes to mind). While some ignore questions of elitism and colonialism (lest we forget the Dolce & Gabbana disaster), others question those very lines.
For better or worse, fashion and art are intertwined in philosophy and visual. But the heart of a good collaboration isn’t just absorbing another’s aesthetic; if done right, collaboration straddles the edge of conceptual, familiar and revolutionary.
The Victoria & Albert Museum understands the bond between artists and designers, so they commissioned the brilliant Britain Creates: Fashion + Art Collusion exhibition, in which talented artists such as Mark Titchner and Francis Upritchard joined forces with fashion doyennes like Jonathan Saunders and Giles Deacon.
One of the leaders in artist-designer collaborations is Marc Jacobs. He teamed up with the controversial Takashi Murakami in 2002 to reinterpret the iconic LV, while he is now collaborating with the eccentric Yayoi Kusama on a collection that is both cutesy-kitsch and alarmingly psychedelic.
Christian Dior also found inspiration in artistic endeavour, exhibiting Innovation Dior at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. There, a collection of Dior couture from the last 54 years was placed alongside fine art, revealing the obvious lasting influences.
But artist Cindy Sherman took a very different turn with her Comme des Garcons collaboration in 1994. Unlike most fashion photography, which idolises the garment and its host, Sherman placed the designs on destructed, inbred in-law of Chucky-styled mannequins, creating an eerie commentary on our fashion-obsessed fantasies.
However these alliances develop in the future, the results will always be powerful. As Pop-artist Robert Rauschenberg wisely surmised, 'I think that both fashion and art are an expression of the zeitgeist.' Go through the gallery to see some of the most current, influential, and controversial designer/artist collaborations thus far.