Fashion is no stranger to appropriating art. Louis Vuitton is one such luxury fashion house that has always championed the arts. Since Marc Jacobs’ tenure, Louis Vuitton has seen critically-acclaimed collaborations with Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti-laden monograms and Yayoi Kusama’s collection of polka dotted-everything. Not to mention Kim Jones’ ode to Christopher Nemeth for autumn/winter 2015 and most recently, the Chapman Brothers were commissioned for a second time (their artworks were seen on the fall/winter 2013 collection) to bring to life the spring/summer 2017 collection.
The culmination of Louis Vuitton’s artistic vision and appreciation comes in the form of an impressive architectural marvel covered in 12 glass sails. Fondation Louis Vuitton was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and officially opened to the public on 27 October 2014.
Fondation Louis Vuitton may be branded with a melted silver LV logo at the entrance but unlike fashion-centric exhibition spaces the world over, the exhibited pieces have no relation to the fashion house. Serving as a platform to showcase contemporary 20th and 21st century art, the only obvious link to fashion is the auditorium that’s the set for seasonal runway shows.
It’s almost the same theme echoed by Fondazione Prada, where Miuccia Prada is the co-chairperson. Unveiled last year, its sprawling 19,000sqm permanent compound acts as “a stimulating cultural hangout”. There is a Wes Anderson-designed café, a cinema, various exhibition spaces and the hard-to-miss ‘Haunted House’ that’s covered in 24k gold leaf. Prada’s fashion history is kept separate.
In comparison, Giorgio Armani’s Armani/Silos project is focused inwards, a temple that preserves the brand’s past and present. Organised into different themes, the space was launched to celebrate the designer’s illustrious 40-year career and Armani himself oversaw the entire conception of the project, which includes a digital archive of the designer’s sketches, technical drawings and related materials for every line and collection under his belt (up to four floors worth).
To some people, fashion might not necessarily equate to art. They argue that unlike art, fashion also serves pragmatic purposes, apart from being a means for wearers to express their individual style and aesthetic sensibilities. But there is no denying that the two creative worlds greatly influence each other and will continue to do so in the decades to come.
The formation of the three spaces mentioned in this story signal a more aggressive move for fashion to be linked to art. There won’t be an immediate effect but it is a start.
With fashion exhibitions sprouting in spades in museums the world over, the distinction will start to be blurred. In the future, collectors might spend as much money on a timeless fur coat as they do on a Rembrandt painting or a vintage Rolex timepiece.
After all, fashion beautifully captures the sentiments of a certain time period and is as much a piece of history as it is a work of art.
This article was first published in the February 2016 issue of AUGUSTMAN