There has always been synergy between fashion and contemporary art. From collaborations between fashion houses and artists, to contemporary creatives turning their own hand to producing clothing, we take a look at six artists who have helped dissolve the barrier between art and fashion.
Name a successful fashion brand and it is likely they have approached KAWS for a collaboration at some point over the past 25 years. From luxury fashion brands, including Dior and Comme des Garçons, to on-trend street wear brands including Bathing Ape and Supreme, KAWS has done it all.
In his latest collaboration, KAWS has teamed up with Japanese luxury fashion brand Sacai to create what the founder and designer Chitose Abe reportedly calls, “wearable art”. The collection, launching in July, is also in collaboration with Nike who have created special shoes to match the vibrant series of clothes.
KAWS X SACAI
In 2012, Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama famously teamed up with Louis Vuitton to create a show-stopping collection. Featuring bags, clothes and accessories, the Vuitton-Kusama collection, according to Marc Jacobs, had the aim to “introduce Yayoi Kusama and contemporary art in general to a wider public”.
Even if the public were not familiar with Kusama, however, the spot-crazed artist was no stranger to fashion. In the 1960s, Kusama launched her own ready-to-wear fashion line. Imitating her traditional polka-dot motif, the clothes had strategically cut holes, turning the wearer of the outfit into part of the design.
Founder of the ‘superflat’ movement, Takashi Murakami is known for disregarding the separation between high and low art. Incorporating mainstream Japanese culture into his artwork, his paintings, prints and sculptures are inspired by bright colours and bold designs. Throughout his illustrious career, Murakami has collaborated with a number of fashion brands including Louis Vuitton, Billionaire Boys Club, Vans, Porter, Crocs and Uniqlo.
In 2020, Murakami teamed up with streetwear brand Supreme to create an original t-shirt to raise funds for HELP USA, a fund created to support families facing homelessness as a result of the pandemic. The shirt was so successful that sales raised over $1 million for the non-profit, allowing the charity to build affordable homes and provide shelters for young people in need.
TAKASHI MURAKAMI X SUPREME
British contemporary artist Damien Hirst is known for his fascination with death. Whether it be a skull motif, butterfly taxidermy or a shark in formaldehyde, Hirst has never shied away from confronting mortality. Although incredibly successful, for many years at the beginning of his career, the morbidity and to a certain extent, insanity, of Hirst’s artwork did not lend itself to fashion. That was until, British fashion icon, Alexander McQueen proposed a collaboration with the artist in 2013.
Also known for his use of a skull motif, Alexander McQueen collaborated with Hirst to create a series of thirty limited edition scarfs designed with skulls and butterflies. Derived from Hirst’s obsession with entomology, the geometric formation of the design echoed Hirst’s work whilst retaining McQueen’s signature style. The seamless partnership was extremely successful and nearly ten years later, the Hirst x McQueen collaboration has become a milestone in the fashion house’s rich history.
DAMIEN HIRST X ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
A pioneering figure in contemporary art, Yoshitomo Nara is a Japanese artist famed for his distinctive drawings of children and animals. Coming from the Japanese aesthetic tradition of kawaii – meaning cuteness - Nara’s artwork depicts wide-eyed children who seem as sweet as they are sinister.
For Spring/Summer 2021, fashion designer Stella McCartney has embraced the progressive punk attitude of Nara’s drawings, collaborating with the artist to create We are punks, a unisex clothing line featuring Nara’s designs. From silk trousers to knitted jumpers, the range of clothes bridges the gap between subculture, art and fashion.
YOSHITOMO NARA X STELLA MCCARTNEY
Known for his classic Dia de los Muertos style, Theodore creates colourful canvases adorned with flowers and skulls. His dynamic brushstrokes and vivid colour palette make his artwork the perfect choice for embellishing clothes.
In 2018, to celebrate 50 years of Puma’s iconic suede shoe, the company collaborated with Bradley Theodore to create a strikingly bold Fall/Winter collection. Featuring a pair of trainers, a top, and black T7 track pants with a matching jacket, the clothes incorporate Theodore’s iconic skeleton motif, as well as featuring splashes of vibrant colour reminiscent of his brush-style application. The kaleidoscopic collaboration was such a success that in 2019, Theodore reunited with the brand to create a larger 23-piece collection.
BRADLEY THEODORE X PUMA