Agnès B’s influence on the aesthetic of French fashion is highly underrated but undeniable. The designer is also known as much for her innovative support and collaborations with contemporary artists as for her clothing. She founded an exhibition space in 1984 called Galerie du Jour in Paris, and produced a free art publication, Point d’Ironie, which has included issues devoted to names like Ryan McGinley and Gilbert & George.
To mark 41 years of her signature snap cardigan (which retails at £125), B has curated an exhibition of photographic works entitled ...Photographers ...Artists and the Snap Cardigan. The show (running in New York from 8 February to 1 March) is homage to the first snap exhibition she staged at Galerie du Jour as part of Mois de la Photo in 1986. This acclaimed event included 140 photographers and was so popular it was reimagined at the Centre Pompidou in 1996.
For this iteration, B has invited 73 photographers to approach the iconic garment in their own way, with varied and enthusiastic results. Artists include Maripol, Juergen Teller, Annette Messager, Cheryl Dunn, Rinko Kawauchi and Massimo Vitali. Film directors David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch have also created images for the show.
According to the recently published Assouline tome Agnès B: The Snap Cardigan, the Versailles-born fashion designer was partly inspired by a statue of Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie – the creator of the royal fruit and vegetable gardens at the Sun King’s famous palace – wearing a button-down waistcoat. The cotton fleece piece produced in 1979 was an immediate success. “A while ago, I designed a cardigan for myself. I wanted one that opened in front with lots of snaps that evoke a Renaissance garment, a child’s garment for grown-ups, or the other way round, and the snap cardigan was born,” the designer recalls.
This show is inspired by how people have adapted the piece to their own style. The 40cm x 60cm photographs will travel to Tokyo and Hong Kong later in the year. Meanwhile, this week sees the opening of B’s new space in Paris called La Fab, displaying her own collection of over 5,000 artworks.