18 April 2023

A marriage of art and design

by Eugénie Rousak

© Yayoi Kusama. Photo by Yusuke Miyazaki.

Focus on the coolest collaborations.

If artistic movements have always been a source of inspiration for designers, cultural heritage is also a regular guest in fashion and design collections.

The boundaries are thin between art and fashion or design houses. Museums regularly organize exhibitions or retrospectives devoted to great designers, while the industry regularly brings together its iconic objects with the world’s masterpieces. From this marriage, new collections are born, mixing cultural heritage with new trends. While history has seen some unavoidable symbiotic collaborations, recent encounters have also been surprising, even unexpected. Here is a review.

Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama

The collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama was probably the most anticipated, but why the hype? First of all, because the two big names had already collaborated in 2012, spreading a real wave of polka dots and bright hues in the fashion world. The other reason is the quality and originality of the artists the House chooses for its partnerships. From Stephen Sprouse to Richard Prince, via Takashi Murakami or Jeff Koons, the styles are completely antinomic! While the campaign was launched at the beginning of the year, the world has since been covered in multicolored polka dots! They are everywhere: on Bella Hadid’s bags, the packaging of iconic fragrances, the most emblematic pieces of the House and even different buildings around the world. Speaking of buildings, the phantasmagoria reached its peak when a giant sculpture of Yayoi Kusama placing her Painted Dots on the front of the Champs-Élysées boutique was unveiled to the public! Social networks went wild, propelling the collaboration to the forefront. In addition to his many types of dots, the artist also revisited nearly 400 pieces with his iconic pumpkins, surreal “faces” and Figurative Flowers, all in his signature style. Impressive, no?

Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama

Swatch x MoMa, Magritte, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Le Gallerie Degli Uffizi

While art is now an integral part of Swatch wristwatches, this love affair dates back to 1985. In almost forty years, the watchmaker has collaborated with artists, designers, photographers and architects as well as with major cultural institutions. In turn, the illustration signed Christian Chapiron, alias Kiki Picasso, the trompe-l’oeil of Alfred Hofkunst, the geometric lines of Piet Mondrian or the smile of Mona Lisa, have dressed the wrists. For its spring 2023 collection, the Swiss brand has decided to go even further by partnering not with one institution, but with four pillars of the art world. With MoMA, the idea was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Roy Lichtenstein’s birth, by installing his famous polka-dot cartoons on the dials. For its watch, the Louvre Abu Dhabi decided to slip two elements on a single piece: on the front side is a fragment of the famous Hokusai wave, while on the back side is The Astrolabe by Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Battuti. Like Magritte’s surrealist games, the first model with the artist’s effigy proudly houses a pipe that is not a pipe, while the second is an Apple Watch, straight out of the twentieth century. Finally, the Gallerie degli Uffizi takes the Swatch to the time of Botticelli’s Renaissance with “The Birth of Venus” and “The Allegory of Spring”. In total, seven watches allow you to wear iconic works of art on a daily basis, a nice way to take paintings out of the picture window and democratize art!

Swatch Art Journey Collection

UNIQLO x Louvre

When the Japanese LifeWear specialist joins forces with the world’s most visited iconic art giant, it results in a unique four-year partnership. Launched in 2021, it has notably allowed the works to be taken out of the museum, for lack of being able to visit them during the pandemic! If this meeting between culture and fast fashion is materialized in the UT line of the brand, the collaboration between the two emblems also goes beyond clothing (we will talk about it in a moment) with a resolutely cultural component. And yes, UNIQLO also decided to sponsor the Saturday Nocturne and become a partner of the Mini découvertes, short guided tours for families to complete this collaboration. But let’s get back to textiles. The first collection was built around the inventory numbers of the works, an idea conceptualized by designer Peter Saville for the men’s line. For the women’s line, the famous paintings and works of the Louvre were highlighted. Last year, this partnership took shape when Japanese artist Yu Nagaba was invited to revisit the museum’s masterpieces in his own refined style. He chose his models from among the 35,000 or so works on display and then (re)designed them in a minimalist way, creating links between cultural heritage and current trends. A little extra, a Hasami cup and saucer were added to the collection! The UNIQLO x Louvre collaboration lasts until 2024, so we’ll see you for the next capsule!

Louvre Museum × Yu Nagaba, Uniqlo UT Line

Dr. Martens x The National Gallery

For this 100% British collaboration, the brand with the “punk” and shamefully solid shoes has joined forces with the London-based The National Gallery. From this partnership were born four pieces, three models of shoes and a bag, which highlight three great painters of the twentieth century. For the first pair, the 1460 boots are dressed with the famous sunflowers, signed Vincent Van Gogh, as well as embellished with dark brown laces, brushed gold eyelets and the famous yellow stitching. For the other two, it is the 1461 model that has been diverted. Claude Monet’s famous water lilies glide delicately from Giverny onto the Backhand Strawgrain leather for a look in green tones. The third creation is a mix between the very classic black front of the shoe, while its back part is covered with “Une baignade à Asnières” by Georges Seurat. Extravagant marriage between grunge and pastel palette! And to pay tribute to the three artists at the same time, Dr. Martens also designed a totally arty backpack, mixing the three masterpieces on one piece! A nice revenge for the three impressionists, who were rejected from the Salons at the time, and decided to break the rules. If this custom collaboration is absolutely unique, it’s not the first time the brand has offered the paintings of the great masters. Since then, another collection has been released, this time in partnership with The Met and placed under Japanese influence. The codes are thus broken!

DM’S X The National Gallery

Lalique x Magritte Foundation

It is no coincidence that Lalique has also decided to highlight the figurative and enigmatic world of René Magritte. Indeed, this year marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of this extraordinary Belgian artist. But how to approach the work of this surrealist, following his unique language? Lalique has answered this question by bringing down the cult objects of Magritte’s art from their paintings to dress them in crystal! Thus, even though the famous pipe has reclaimed its pipe form, it still is not. Similarly, other iconic objects in Magritte’s paintings have been given a 3D representation, drawing on Lalique’s expertise. First, there is the representation of apples, a common thread running through a dozen paintings. Sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, sometimes masked in the master’s work, this diversity has been taken up by Lalique in creating two distinct versions. Then, the brand revisited the only object that already existed outside the paintings: the bowler hat, which Marcel Mabille had to buy following the artist’s very precise instructions. That said, Lalique has completely diverted it from its original size, not to mention its original function. Finally, the collection ends with the masterpiece: “The Crystal Bath” of 50 centimeters. With its play of transparent and satin parts and its disproportionality of size between the glass and the giraffe, the House has succeeded in reinforcing this confusion, so sought after by the artist. The tone is set!

Magritte x Lalique

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Girl by Roy Lichtenstein

Weekend Tote

La Trahison des Images, René Magritte and Lalique

1460 The National Gallery Van Gogh Lace Boots Up
Dr. Martens

Musée du Louvre x Yu Nagaba Plate