Fashion has always looked to the art world for validation. I find this ironic. Art can be such an abstract cloud of subjective noise. Particularly in modern art (which may not even be in reference to contemporary art – rather, the new breed of self-titled social media artists, where the parameters on intellectual property and inspiration are blurred beyond recognition), it’s difficult to distinguish between what is marketing and what is true ingenuity. The same can be said for fashion. We gravitate towards things that we don’t quite understand and call it genius. It’s true that a throwaway reference to Vermeer or Renoir certainly seems to build the illusion of separating the wheat from the chaff. I know art history, it says. I’m better than you and your lowly commercial motivations. I’m a purist. You’re a capitalist. I don’t have money on my mind (I do it for, I do it for the love). I suppose fashion is, at the end of the day, a beautiful (or dysfunctional, as 2015 has seen) struggle between art and commerce.
With an emphasis on commerce.
All of this is not to say that there is not and should not be an influential common ground between art and fashion in the 21st century. Mitchell Oakley Smith and Alison Kubler’s book titled as such is a pretty excellent analytical and visual starting point, should you have any fundamental doubts. Our greatest design talents operate in very similar creative processes to our greatest artists. Couture, when executed with soul, is one of the most fantastical forms of live escapism you can experience. The more progressive Ready-to-Wear shows too, are truly shows in the sense of performance art – not like Chanel’s spectacles, per se, but rather, Rick Owens, Yeezy and vintage McQueen. Then there’s the balancing collaborative space between the two. Not in the throw-a-party-and/or-blogger-brunch-at-Art Basel sense (why brands with no vested interest in the art world would go to the effort of attaching themselves to an art fair is a mystery to me – though, I’m sure Miami is a great deal of fun). More of artists bringing more abstract interpretations of a brand to their consumer, or brands bringing mass commercial relevance to an artist. Or even artists who independently and expertly straddle the two worlds.
All three of the artists I worked with on these alternate covers I shot for last month’s L’Officiel Indonesia do just that. Of course, Michael Zavros, Donald Robertson and Vicki Lee, all have incredibly different aesthetics, but each of them (in an era of oversharing and questionable appropriation) are original creative minds for whom I have a huge amount of trust and respect.
Thank you so much to everyone involved in putting together what is surely my favourite story to date, and to Hessy and the L’Officiel team for having me as your covergirl – even if I’m not all that easy-breezy-beautiful-*wink*.
LOOK 2: Osman Top from désordre – Third Form Skirt – Roksanda, Man the Label, Natasha Schweitzer, Wanderlust + Co Jewellery (self-portrait)
LOOK 3: Romance Was Born Dress – Holly Ryan, Mania Mania, Amber Sceats Jewellery
LOOK 4: Marimekko Jumpsuit – Alice + Olivia Coat – Mania Mania Earrings with artwork by Vicki Lee
LOOK 5: Louis Vuitton Dress and Belt with artwork by Michael Zavros