The world of fashion and art undeniably overlap, which is why some of the best artists and fashion designers have collaborated to create some iconic moments or highly sought-after pieces.
It feels like collaborations in the fashion industry are commonplace. In recent times, the most popular collaborations are between brands for example, the Supreme X Louis Vuitton collection. However, the origin of collaborations can be traced back to the commercial and cultural success of Artist X Designer collaborations.
Elsa Schiaparelli X Salvador Dali (1930s)
Artist and designer collaborations can be traced back to the seminal meeting between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali. Schiaparelli, who was a renowned Italian fashion designer, and Dali, Spanish Surrealist artist, met through mutual friends as they orbited the same social sphere.
“The designers began working together in 1934, a volatile time in Paris, but one in which their wealthy clients were interested in exploring the most daring solutions.”
Their most famous creation is the ‘Organza Dinner Dress with Painted Lobster’ also known as ‘This Women’s Dinner Dress’ or more simply as the ‘Lobster Dress.’ Inspiration was drawn from Dali’s lobster telephone series. The artist regarded lobsters as a symbol of sexuality due to the visual history between food and sex–specifically seafood and female genitalia.
The lobster on the dress alludes to this by being placed on the crotch area with smatterings of parsley, suggestively hinting at themes of consumption and offering.
The dress became more iconic when it was worn by the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson. She herself was seen as an object of desire or symbol of sexuality as King Edward III abdicated the throne to marry her. Schiaparelli and Dali created layers of symbolism within this dress and set the precedent for cultural significance when two creative powerhouses collaborate.
Louis Vuitton X Takashi Murakami (2003)
Flash forward a few years and there have been artist X designer collaborations since the days of Schiaparelli and Dali, but none had as much impact until Louis Vuitton X Takashi Murakami in 2003.
The house of Louis Vuitton needs no introduction, but they have made even more of a name for themselves for paving the way for artists collaborating with powerhouse brands.
Takashi Murakami, Japanese contemporary artist, is renowned for his bright, cartoonish aesthetic (or ‘superflat’) that blurred the boundary between high and lowbrow art. Louis Vuitton, headed by Marc Jacobs, approached Murakami and produced the iconic rainbow monogram on white design: the Monogram Multicolore.
It was hugely popular, seen on the likes of Paris Hilton in the 2000s and now has regained popularity with the return of 2000s fashion. Since this original collaboration in 2003, Murakami and Louis Vuitton continued to work together until this year when Louis Vuitton announced it would be discontinuing the Monogram Multicolore line.
Louis Vuitton X Richard Prince (2008)
Again, with Marc Jacobs heading Louis Vuitton, the brand collaborated with famed American artist, Richard Prince. They collaborated on the SS08 runway show that was inspired by Prince’s works depicting nurses.
Models were dresses like nurses in transparent latex dresses with monogrammed lace face masks and nurse caps with a letter to collectively spell out the brand’s name: it is still regarded as one of the most iconic runway shows in fashion history.
Louis Vuitton X Yayoi Kusama (2012)
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist known for her installations with endless mirrors, lights or dots to create a sense of infinity. In 2012, she collaborated with Louis Vuitton on a line of ready-to-wear clothes and accessories that featured her signature dot pattern.
To promote the line, several flagship stores were turned into installations themselves with the dot pattern covering every surface.
Alexander McQueen X Damien Hirst (2013)
Damien Hirst is an English contemporary artist best known for his formaldehyde animal sculptures and his diamond skull sculpture (For the Love of God), which had the most expensive asking price of art by a living artist at £50 million.
McQueen is known for their skull iconography and on the 10th anniversary of the skull scarf, Hirst and McQueen collaborated on a collection of limited scarf designs.
Louis Vuitton X Jeff Koons Masters collection (2017)
Jeff Koons is an American artist who is renowned for his metal balloon animals, kitsch, pop-culture works and instillation pieces. His Gazing Ball series, in which he re-contextualised works by Old Masters, was the inspiration behind the collaboration with Louis Vuitton.
Together, they produced the ‘Masters Collection’ where bags had the images of famous artworks from icons like Titian, Monet, Van Gogh and Da Vinci.
Coach X Basquiat (2020)
The most recent artist and designer collaboration is between Coach and the deceased American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The New York-born artist was known for his graffiti art and Neo-Expressionist paintings and he himself collaborated with the famed Andy Warhol.
Coach’s creative director Stuart Vevers worked with Marc Jacobs during his time at Louis Vuitton and one can deduce he was inspired by Jacobs to launch his own artist X designer collaboration. The line has a mix of clothing and leather goods, but the bags with Basquiat’s iconic crown motif is probably the most coveted.
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