Fashion x Art Collaborations

Dior Men x KAWS via Chefrito

Feature image: Dior Men x KAWS via Chefrito

Iconic Art and Fashion Collaborations

Art and fashion endlessly inspire one another. This symbiotic relationship between the two realms has created some of the most iconic partnerships and collaborations, but the two industries remain distinct. While art is unbound and personal, fashion is often restricted to the demands of a fast-paced industry. Despite their differences, the convergence of fashion and art is a dynamic catalyst for pushing the boundaries of creativity and exploring the norms and expectations of each industry.

Elsa Schiaparelli x Salvador Dalí (1937)

In 1937, Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí created one of the first major art-fashion collaborations. The collaboration between the visionary fashion designer and the surrealist master is an iconic testament to the boundless possibilities when art and fashion intersect. 

Lobster Dinner Dress via  FIT NYC
Lobster Dinner Dress via FIT NYC

The pair first met in the vibrant cultural landscape of Paris in the 1930s. Dalí and Schiaparelli shared many personal and artistic similarities, which launched them into a desire for newness and novelty within their work. Their shared collection featured surrealist elements infused into garments, blurring the boundaries between clothing and art. Most notably, the two worked to create the Lobster Dress, inspired by Dalí’s series of lobster telephones. Dalí saw the crustacean as an aphrodisiac and symbol of sexuality, splaying it across the midsection of Schiaparelli’s dinner dress. Another standout piece in the collection is the Tear Dress, featuring a trompe l’oeil print of rips and tears, revealing a layer of pink fabric beneath. Additionally, the “Shoe Hat” in the collection is a whimsical creation that reimagined the concept of headwear by incorporating a high-heeled shoe as its centerpiece. Beyond the garments themselves, the show and its presentation were infused with surrealism with its theatrical and otherworldly flair and background of surrealist props. 

Prada x Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset (2005)

Fashion house Prada collaborated with artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, known for their subversive installations that challenge social norms, to create a sculpture of a luxury boutique made entirely from biodegradable materials. Exploring the relationship between art, architecture, and design, Prada Marfa was permanently installed along a barren stretch of highway on U.S. Route 90 in Texas in 2005. The faux Prada boutique was filled with pieces from the fall/winter 2005 collection. The door is always locked, but it was looted the night of its installation. It is repeatedly vandalized by graffiti. The plan was for the building to never be repaired so that it would gradually degrade into its minimalist surroundings, but this plan has since been revised. 

Prada Marfa via Wikipedia
Prada Marfa via Wikipedia

In 2015, Prada enlisted Elmgreen and Dragset to design the Fall/Winter runway show concept. The artists created a series of interconnected rooms for models to navigate within a simulated domestic space, evoking the atmosphere of a contemporary art gallery. Each room featured meticulously curated details, from furniture and decor to personal belongings, all meticulously chosen to convey a sense of narrative and intrigue.

Alexander McQueen x Damien Hirst (2013)

Designer Alexander McQueen and contemporary artist Damien Hirst collaborated in 2013 to create 30 limited edition scarves available in various fabrics. The collection was highly anticipated. McQueen and Hirst both share an appreciation for symmetrical design and natural themes. Mortality and nature are central to their work. The scarves were inspired by Hirst’s Butterfly Color Paintings and Entomology series from 2008-2012. Additionally, the collection was inspired by Dante’s Inferno and its influence on Hirst’s fascination with death. On some of the scarves, insects were formed into skulls and kaleidoscope-like images. The collaboration came 10 years after McQueen released his first skull scarf, which became an iconic piece for the brand. 

Alexander McQueen scarf via New Art Editions
Alexander McQueen scarf via New Art Editions

A special exhibition was held at the Alexander McQueen flagship store in London, showcasing the scarves alongside Hirst’s paintings, offering customers and audiences a glance into the thematic connections between the two artists. 

Louis Vuitton x Richard Prince (2008)

Throughout Marc Jacobs’ tenure as creative director of Louis Vuitton, the designer was innovative in his approach to modernizing the brand. In doing so, he collaborated with a range of legendary artists. For the Spring/Summer 2008 runway show, Jacobs collaborated with artist Richard Prince, known for his iconic nurse paintings. 

Richard Prince show via Gracious, Good
Richard Prince show via Gracious, Good's Blog

For the collaboration, 12 models dressed in sheer nurse uniforms, each letterr of the brand’s name fixed on their hats, styled with black lace face masks. Handbags, luggage, and accessories inspired by the artist’s “Jokes” series were created with a watercolor finish. The collection showcased limited edition versions of the brand's iconic Speedy and Keepall bags adorned with Prince’s artwork. 

The highlight of the collaboration was the creation of the “Monogram Jokes” collection, where Prince playfully reimagined Louis Vuitton’s classic monogram pattern by overlaying it with his own irreverent and subversive imagery. The juxtaposition of high fashion and pop culture gave the collection a distinctive edge, appealing to both fashion enthusiasts and contemporary art lovers alike. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, several accounts took to social media to look back at the iconic show and its connection to pandemic life. Jacobs himself reminisced on the show in an Instagram post with the caption “Wish I’d have held on to one of these” in reference to the lace masks. 

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