Fashion-Art Collaborations Dominate this Spring


This season’s shows were filled with artistic influences, references and collaborations. However, there was no wholesale appropriation of pretty pictures and prints into this year’s pieces. Instead the fashion houses, and the artists that they featured, approached the idea in a more conceptual, political or thematic manner. It did not seem frivolous, or reductive, rather it seemed pointed, relevant and contemporary.

For their s/s 2018 collection, Dior opened their show with a model wearing a Breton t-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ across it. The quote is taken directly from Linda Nochlin’s 1971 essay about the limitations and difficulties that female artists face within society, and their frequent absence from art history. As Maria Grazia Chiuri is the label’s first female artistic director the slogan seems especially fitting.

The pieces for the collection were inspired by the artwork of the sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle. It was filled with bright blocks of colour, stripes, bits of broken mirrors and metallics in reference to de Saint Phalle’s large fluid and highly decorated human-esque sculptures.

This season Prada also collaborated with a number of artists. Their show was held against a backdrop produced by a number of different historical and contemporary female cartoonists and manga artists, including work by Tarpé Mills, the first woman to create a female superhero. Many of the prints for the clothes were created using screen prints, which meant that creases and small imperfections could be seen in the clothes- in part a reference to the human process of making of art, and also, perhaps, a slight critique of the digitalization of the arts, and the loss of ‘craft’.

small imperfections could be seen in the clothes- in part a reference to the human process of making of art

For her collection Miuccia Prada created embellished, heavily patterned, punk-y pieces, with boxy oversized 1950s silhouettes. It was a coming together of many different elements- men’s work shirts, and chic 1950’s-style dresses alongside little kitten heeled sling-backs and studded pointy brogues. It suggested a reimagining of convention and there was a feeling that the show was a call to action, as Prada herself commented: “Just wasting to change the world. Especially for women, because there’s so much against us, still”.

Jun Takahashi featured the female photographer Cindy Sherman in his collection for Undercover. However, he took a more thematic approach, instead of simply reproducing her photographs as prints. Inspired by the twins in Kubrick’s film the Shining models were sent down the runway in pairs holding hands – in fact the whole show had a slightly Kubrick-esque Americana-horror-shopping trolley-glamour feel to it, featuring pastel coloured cardigans, 1950s up ‘dos under headscarves, pearl earrings and glitter eyeshadow.

the whole show had a slightly Kubrick-esque Americana-horror-shopping trolley-glamour feel to it

They wore complimentary contrasting ensembles with identical tailoring, but made out of different fabrics, colours and prints, centering the collection on the premise of similarity and difference, in reference to Sherman’s work regarding the relationship between adornment and the creation of identity.

Raf Simons has in the past collaborated with a number of different artists- such as Peter Saville, Sterling Ruby and the Andy Warhol Foundation in 2013 for Dior’s a/w collection.This season for Calvin Klein he integrated Andy Warhol screen prints, created between 1963-82, into his collection. This is part of the label’s four-year agreement with the Andy Warhol Foundation which  allows the fashion house to use his art, including unpublished work, across their collections. Calvin Klein will, in return, be contributing financially to the foundation’s grant program which provides monetary support for contemporary visual artists. I like this not only because it is helping to fund the arts- a good thing– but also because the combination of art/fashion/money, culture and capital, has a slight ‘Factory’ feel to it, which seems apt.

Under creative director Alessandro Michele Gucci also decided to collaborate with an artist for their s/s 18 advertising campaign. They worked with Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal, to create a series of digitally ‘painted’ illustrations instead of using photographs. Monreal often references mythical stories and uses historical references in his work, which is painted using bright, light, almost poster paint-y, colours. The series of images he created for Gucci is called ‘Utopian Fantasy’ and is split into three themes: earth, sea and sky.

In it he recreated classic paintings such as Sleeping Beauty by Hans Zatzka, Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Marriage Portrait, John Millais’ Ophelia and Bosch’s Garden of Eden- however they are filled with modern items, iphones, headphones, and Gucci merchandise. It is both fantastical and surrealist: sheer dresses morph into mermaid tails, there are people flying in the sky, floating castles, and armored knights following Google maps, futuristic sunglasses worn by Renaissance ladies, sexy spinxes, and Cherubs with post-it notes. Essentially, it’s worth a look. (And you get extra points if you can spot Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I).


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