Trends – follow or fear them, they come at us from every angle, every season: “The Twenties are back!”, “Purple is the new black!”, “The coat is dead, long live the jacket!” Right now, though, many designers are hung up on a trend that has nothing to do with hemlines, colours or cuts and everything to do with inspiration – they’re collaborating with some of the world’s most exciting artists for their latest collections.
Marni’s Consuelo Castiglioni, for example, has teamed up with artist Brian Rea for pre-autumn/winter bags and T-shirts. “His graphic designs depict unusual urban situations,” she explains, “they were perfect for the collection, with a metropolitan feel.” The designer, who has also collaborated with Rop van Mierlo on spring/summer 2013 menswear, having fallen in love with his ‘Wild Animals’ series of paintings, enjoys working with artists on her collections. “I find the process of merging different ideas and visions and the contamination stimulating,” she says. “It might be the same for the customer.”
Castiglioni is not alone in having optimism for consumer reaction to artist-led lines. Louis Vuitton is heavily pushing its new, high profile collaboration on polka-dotted clothes, shoes and bags with Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, whose Tate Modern exhibition has just moved to the Whitney Museum in New York. Meanwhile, Loewe has worked with Spanish artist Antonio Ballester Moreno on a colourful range of traditional ‘mantón de Manila’ scarves this season (it’s a flamenco thing, apparently) and Coach is transporting the bright, brushstroke paintings of James Nares from canvas on a frame to canvas in the shape of a tote bag. Later this month, Lacoste Live! launches a capsule collection of mens and womenswear featuring highly graphic prints designed with American illustrator Micah Lindberg and, for resort 2013, Roksanda Illincic says she drew heavily from the work of Ellsworth Kelly.
If all of the above don’t scratch your art-loving itch, you could dive further into the art world, whilst still having a foot firmly in fashion, at the V&A museum in London. Earlier this month, the museum launched its ‘Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion’ exhibition, featuring works of art by the likes of Mark Titchner, Francis Upritchard and Jess Flood-Paddock, designed in partnership with some of fashion’s finest, including Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto and Jonathan Saunders.
For Casitglioni, whose favourite painter of all time is early Pop artist, Robert Rauschenberg, the question of where fashion and art converge has a simple answer. “I think that both fashion and art are an expression of the zeitgeist.” Obvious, perhaps, but undoubtedly true – and for now the zeitgeist seems to be keen on those two worlds conspiring.
I wrote this article for fashion.telegraph.co.uk – you can read it on the site here
Marni images © 2012 Marni. All rights reserved. / Loewe images © 2012 Loewe. All rights reserved. / Lacoste images © 2012 Lacoste. All rights reserved. / Roksanda Illincic images © 2012 Roksanda Illincic. All rights reserved. / Coach images © 2012 Coach. All rights reserved.