Style | Need To Now

Fashion gets into bed with fine art

A Miami Design District event goes from highbrow to high glamour

B3e58fb1-98e2-4910-a0aa-fea4c6ef3ed8_sixty_square 9c370203-d625-497d-9050-1efbe1914def_sixty_square
Fashion gets into bed with fine art

November 28 2011
Dominic Lutyens

Fine art has traditionally viewed fashion as trivial by comparison. Undeterred by this, luxury fashion brands eager to garner cultural cachet – and edginess – are increasingly rubbing shoulders with the contemporary art world. (Louis Vuitton was an early exponent, commissioning artist Olafur Eliasson to create pieces for its stores.)

And nowadays, artists have fewer qualms about cosying up to fashion, if a week of cultural activities held in the Miami Design District – which brims with high-end boutiques – is anything to go by. This coincides with Art Basel Miami Beach (December 1-4), America’s largest art fair, and Design Miami, a fair focusing on 20th-century and contemporary design.

This year, the Miami Design District event (held from November 29 to December 4) encompasses the highbrow – it includes an exhibition of two works by midcentury, avant-garde architect Buckminster Fuller – and the glamorously consumerist, in the form of two pop-up shops. One of these, Dior’s, will showcase accessories created by artist Anselm Reyle. The second, Pringle of Scotland’s, will show a clutch bag (second picture) and iPad case designed by artist Liam Gillick ($375 and $425 respectively). Redolent of Piet Mondrian’s abstract canvases, Gillick’s designs combine geometric shapes in shades such as yellow, mauve and salmon pink, while for Dior, Reyle has dreamt up a camouflage-pattern wedge platform shoe in gentian violet (first picture, $920) and a handbag in sulphur yellow and fuchsia ($1,500). According to Delphine Arnault, deputy general manager at Dior, these sizzling hues mirror the Cuban-American “Miami spirit”.

So committed are some fashion houses to the cause of art that they’re prepared to sacrifice clear branding. “My collection is conceptual,” says Gillick. “I want to avoid branding, so it has no logos. I want my things to be used by people who don’t care about me or art, who just happen to carry a bag that’s an artwork.”

It’s a perfect Miami “shopportunity”.