Skip
Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

2 minute read

Why Designers Need Artists (And Vice Versa)

A new book, out from Chronicle, extols the benefits of blurring the line between fashion and art.

  • <p>Richard Anuszkiewicz. <em>Iridescence</em>, 1965. Courtesy <a href="http://www.vagarights.com" target="_blank">VAGA</a></p>
  • <p>"Tricks and Treats" fashion editorial photographed by Tim Walker, appearing in the October 2009 issue of <em>Harper's Bazaar</em></p>
  • <p>"Tricks and Treats" fashion editorial photographed by Tim Walker, appearing in the October 2009 issue of <em>Harper's Bazaar</em></p>
  • <p>Nick Cave photographed inside his Soundsuit with a (left) Dolce & Gabbana leopard-print silver-fox handbag and (right) Tod's sheared fox-and-leather satchel</p>
  • <p>A model displays a gown created from colored and crystalized paint cans during the finale of the John Chamberlain-inspired collection during the Mary Katrantzou spring/summer 2012 ready to wear runway presentation.</p>
  • <p>A detail of a look from the John Chamberlain-inspired collection during the Mary Katrantzou spring/summer 2012 ready to wear runway presentation</p>
  • <p>A detail of a men's tote covered in the Chapman Brothers' "Garden in Hell" print for the Louis Vuitton fall/winter 2013 men's collection</p>
  • <p>A model displays a tuxedo jacket in red with the "Garden in Hell" textile created by the Chapman Brothers for the Louis Vuitton fall/winter 2013 men's collection.</p>
  • <p>The Merce Cunningham Dance Company performs <em>Scenario </em>wearing costumes designed by Rei Kawakubo. Paris Opera House, 1998.</p>
  • <p>The Merce Cunningham Dance Company performs <em>Scenario </em>wearing costumes designed by Rei Kawakubo. New York, 1997.</p>
  • <p>A short-sleeved T-shirt from the Matt Groening for Comme des Garcons 2011 Binky & Sheba PLAY collection, featuring characters from Groening's <em>Life in Hell</em> comic strip</p>
  • <p>Pop star Madonna photographed in New York City, 1984, wearing what she considered her favorite outfit at that time— including a Vivienne Westwood Devil Skirt with pattern designed by artist (and Madonna pal) Keith Haring.</p>
  • <p>An ensemble piece from the Vivienne Westwood fall/winter 1983 Witches collection featuring a wool jacket with textile designed by artist Keith Haring and a calf-length Mudman skirt in blue fleece</p>
  • <p>Artist Jeff Koons photographed in his New York City studio with his<em> Lobster</em> inflatable sculpture. 2007.</p>
  • <p>A Mondrian dress in wool characterized by blue, red, and yellow color fields divided by bold black lines. From Yves Saint Laurent's 1965 fall/winter collection.</p>
  • <p>Fashion photograph of a Yasumasa Morimura garment from the Issey Miyake Pleats Please Guest Artist Series No. 1, screen-printed and heat-set pleated polyester, knit fall/winter 1996.</p>
  • <p>Coach and James Nares 2012 limited-edition men's Wave tote collection in fuchsia</p>
  • <p>Models Karolina Kurkova and Santiago Montero star in the Bottega Veneta spring/summer 2011 print campaign photographed by artist Alex Prager.</p>
  • <p>A model wears a yellow dress adorned with collage by Dutch artist Tim Roeloffs for the Versace fall/winter 2008 women's ready-to-wear collection.</p>
  • <p>A look from the Raf Simons & Sterling Ruby fall/winter 2014 men's collection</p>
  • <p>A display of 80 Lacoste logos reinterpreted by artist Peter Saville for Lacoste's 80th anniversary</p>
  • <p>A still from the 2010 Rodarte and Joyce Maggie Cheung film created by Wing Shya</p>
  • <p>Named the most iconic fashion image in the last 100 years by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Melvin Sokolsky's <em>On the Seine</em>, featuring model Simone D'Aillencourt, from his fashion editorial shoot <em>Bubble</em>, appearing in the March 1963 issue of <em>Harper's Bazaar</em></p>
  • <p>Tim Roeloffs. Nov. 9th, 1988: Berliners celebrate the fall of the wall. Collage. Circa 2005</p>
  • <p>Zevs, <em>Liquidated Louis Vuitton Murakami Multico</em>, Black, 2011</p>
  • <p>Zevs, <em>Visual Attack - Yves Saint Laurent</em>, 2001. Paint on Yves Saint Laurent (sidewalk) poster, Paris</p>
  • 01 /26

    Richard Anuszkiewicz. Iridescence, 1965. Courtesy VAGA

  • 02 /26

    "Tricks and Treats" fashion editorial photographed by Tim Walker, appearing in the October 2009 issue of Harper's Bazaar

  • 03 /26

    "Tricks and Treats" fashion editorial photographed by Tim Walker, appearing in the October 2009 issue of Harper's Bazaar

  • 04 /26

    Nick Cave photographed inside his Soundsuit with a (left) Dolce & Gabbana leopard-print silver-fox handbag and (right) Tod's sheared fox-and-leather satchel

  • 05 /26

    A model displays a gown created from colored and crystalized paint cans during the finale of the John Chamberlain-inspired collection during the Mary Katrantzou spring/summer 2012 ready to wear runway presentation.

  • 06 /26

    A detail of a look from the John Chamberlain-inspired collection during the Mary Katrantzou spring/summer 2012 ready to wear runway presentation

  • 07 /26

    A detail of a men's tote covered in the Chapman Brothers' "Garden in Hell" print for the Louis Vuitton fall/winter 2013 men's collection

  • 08 /26

    A model displays a tuxedo jacket in red with the "Garden in Hell" textile created by the Chapman Brothers for the Louis Vuitton fall/winter 2013 men's collection.

  • 09 /26

    The Merce Cunningham Dance Company performs Scenario wearing costumes designed by Rei Kawakubo. Paris Opera House, 1998.

  • 10 /26

    The Merce Cunningham Dance Company performs Scenario wearing costumes designed by Rei Kawakubo. New York, 1997.

  • 11 /26

    A short-sleeved T-shirt from the Matt Groening for Comme des Garcons 2011 Binky & Sheba PLAY collection, featuring characters from Groening's Life in Hell comic strip

  • 12 /26

    Pop star Madonna photographed in New York City, 1984, wearing what she considered her favorite outfit at that time— including a Vivienne Westwood Devil Skirt with pattern designed by artist (and Madonna pal) Keith Haring.

  • 13 /26

    An ensemble piece from the Vivienne Westwood fall/winter 1983 Witches collection featuring a wool jacket with textile designed by artist Keith Haring and a calf-length Mudman skirt in blue fleece

  • 14 /26

    Artist Jeff Koons photographed in his New York City studio with his Lobster inflatable sculpture. 2007.

  • 15 /26

    A Mondrian dress in wool characterized by blue, red, and yellow color fields divided by bold black lines. From Yves Saint Laurent's 1965 fall/winter collection.

  • 16 /26

    Fashion photograph of a Yasumasa Morimura garment from the Issey Miyake Pleats Please Guest Artist Series No. 1, screen-printed and heat-set pleated polyester, knit fall/winter 1996.

  • 17 /26

    Coach and James Nares 2012 limited-edition men's Wave tote collection in fuchsia

  • 18 /26

    Models Karolina Kurkova and Santiago Montero star in the Bottega Veneta spring/summer 2011 print campaign photographed by artist Alex Prager.

  • 19 /26

    A model wears a yellow dress adorned with collage by Dutch artist Tim Roeloffs for the Versace fall/winter 2008 women's ready-to-wear collection.

  • 20 /26

    A look from the Raf Simons & Sterling Ruby fall/winter 2014 men's collection

  • 21 /26

    A display of 80 Lacoste logos reinterpreted by artist Peter Saville for Lacoste's 80th anniversary

  • 22 /26

    A still from the 2010 Rodarte and Joyce Maggie Cheung film created by Wing Shya

  • 23 /26

    Named the most iconic fashion image in the last 100 years by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Melvin Sokolsky's On the Seine, featuring model Simone D'Aillencourt, from his fashion editorial shoot Bubble, appearing in the March 1963 issue of Harper's Bazaar

  • 24 /26

    Tim Roeloffs. Nov. 9th, 1988: Berliners celebrate the fall of the wall. Collage. Circa 2005

  • 25 /26

    Zevs, Liquidated Louis Vuitton Murakami Multico, Black, 2011

  • 26 /26

    Zevs, Visual Attack - Yves Saint Laurent, 2001. Paint on Yves Saint Laurent (sidewalk) poster, Paris

In 1951, fashion photographer Cecil Beaton shot a now iconic spread for Vogue that featured gown-clad models posing in front of Jackson Pollock paintings. The backlash was brutal: Art critics lashed out at Beaton for using Pollock's work as a backdrop in a fashion spread, claiming that fashion—and the commerce that's associated with it—sullied the paintings.

There's long been a contentious divide between the art and fashion worlds, with the latter most often thought of as a lower art form. But as a new book Art + Fashion: Collaborations Between Icons, points out, when art and fashion aren't pitted against each other, brilliance often ensues. The book collects the many labels, collections, and photo shoots that have benefited from blurring of lines—from Elsa Schiaparelli's famous Salvador Dali-painted lobster dress to Cindy Sherman's self-portraits in vintage Chanel—both classic and contemporary.

© Martin Schoeller/AUGUST

"The heart-stopping brilliance of collaborations comes when two extraordinary people combine to make something greater than the sum of their parts," authors E.P. Cutler and Julien Tomasello write in the forward. "This synergy defies the nature of mathematics, allowing for 1+1=3." Take, for example, the influential fashion designer Raf Simons, whose longtime friendship with artist Sterling Ruby led him to create a collection for Dior featuring the artist's prints on couture gowns. In 2014, Simons put his two-decades-old menswear label on hiatus and replaced it with "Raf Simon/Sterling Ruby," a line of collage-like, bleach-splattered pieces that both partners describe as a complete collaboration.

Tim Roeloffs. Nov. 9th, 1988: Berliners celebrate the fall of the wall, Collage, Circa 2005© Tim Roeloffs

Other collaborations between major couture houses are not as one-to-one, but still produced stunning results. When Donatella Versace commissioned Holland-born, Berlin-based collage artist Timotheus Paulus Roeloffs to create original pieces to print on her dresses, she asked that he depict Berlin to honor her late brother, Gianni Versace, and his love for the city. But she also gave him ample sources for inspiration, such as rare 1960s wallpaper books that once belonged to Gianni, and vintage imagery from the fashion house.

© Raymond Meier/Trunk Archive. Nick Cave © 2015 Nick Cave

Then there is Vogue's 2010 eight-page spread of Nick Cave in his Soundsuits, the wild, intricate, multicolored wearable sculptures the artist has become known for. Fashion photographer Raymond Meier pitched the idea to Vogue after he saw a solo exhibition at Fowler Museum in L.A., but when he reached out to Cave the new works were still traveling the museum circuit. The eight neon, furry, surreal, 10-foot tall costumes that Cave wears in the "Monsters, Inc." spread were created especially for Vogue.

For more brilliant art and fashion collaborations, check out the the slideshow above. Art + Fashion is available from Chronicle Books.

All Photos: courtesy Chronicle Books

Slideshow Credits: 01 / © Richard Anuszkiewicz/Albright-Knox Art Gallery/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY/Image Courtesy Art Resource, New York ; 02 / © Tim Walker/Art + Commerce; 03 / © Tim Walker/Art + Commerce; 04 / © Raymond Meier/Trunk Archive. Nick Cave © 2015 Nick Cave; 05 / © firstVIEW; 06 / © firstVIEW; 07 / © firstVIEW. The Chapman Brothers © The Chapman Brothers for Louis Vuitton; 08 / The Chapman Brothers © The Chapman Brothers for Louis Vuitton; 09 / © Jacques Moatti; 10 / © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders; 11 / © Matt Groening for Comme des Garcons; 12 / © Michael Putland/Getty Images. Keith Haring © The Keith Haring Foundation; 13 / © Museum of London. Keith Haring © The Keith Haring Foundation; 14 / © Martin Schoeller/AUGUST; 15 / amw/Interfoto/Mary Evans. Piet Mondrian © HCR International for the Mondrian Trust; 16 / © Alex Sainsbury; 17 / © James Nares for Coach; 18 / © Bottega Veneta by Alex Prager; 19 / Kai Z. Feng/Trunk Archive. Tim Roeloffs © Tim Roeloffs for Versace; 20 / © firstVIEW; 21 / © Peter Saville for Lacoste; 22 / © Wing Shya for Rodarte; 23 / © Melvin Sokolsky; 24 / © Tim Roeloffs; 25 / © Zevs/Image Courtesy DeBuck Gallery, New York; 26 / © Zevs/Image Courtesy DeBuck Gallery, New York;

loading