As part of Jonathan Anderson's deep revitalization of Loewe, and after a decade at the Spanish house, Anderson has transformed the brand into a benchmark for the intersection of fashion and graphic arts. For each collection, the Irish designer handpicks an artist whose work becomes part of the imagery of his designs.
In this latest collection, he has chosen Maruja Mallo, a Galician artist by birth and belonging to the Spanish Surrealist movement. Her series "Naturaleza Viva" has served as inspiration for Loewe's new pre-collection, including her still lifes featuring marine life forms and flowers. As an artist and the leading female representative of the Generation of '27 in painting, her role was a direct or indirect message of hope to women creators throughout history. We recently received the Loewe Maruja Mallo dress in-store featuring one of the artist's illustrations.
The artistic component of fashion is a fundamental pillar of OTTODISANPIETRO. In our physical spaces, and in the nature of the treasure selections we curate, multiple elements of the human creative palette coexist symbiotically. Both fashion as art and the cross-feeding between fashion and visual arts are then tangible entities. The expressive power of clothing is part of what characterises major brands, which integrate their historical legacy through different phases and creative collaborations. Occasions like this intersection between Maruja Mallo and Loewe are the result of decades of collaboration between artists and fashion houses. Today, we discuss three other famous collaborations between visual arts and haute couture.
Cass x Prada: A luxury icon and a Gen Z one
In 2022, artist Cassius Hirst (son of Damien Hirst) had the opportunity to collaborate with Prada in redesigning their most famous sneakers. The American Cup sports shoes from the Prada Linea Rossa range were reimagined by the artist through their layers featuring unique designs. The key motif was a CT scan of the artist's brain, which became a modern backdrop for these sneakers.
Hirst's medical scan symbolises for him the origin of thought and an anchor for times of uncertainty. As part of the campaign, the creator also composed a soundtrack that features in the brand's advertisements. This coordinated effort appeals to the cult of sports shoes, which in modern culture and streetwear have gained momentum to the point of generating extensive queues for their purchase. The artist had been customising his own sneaker collection for some time, gaining followers for his work on social media. The Prada x Hirst range, limited edition collector's sports shoe models, marked the first collaboration that Miuccia Prada agreed to undertake with her brand thanks to its creative and original components.
Comme des Garçons and Cindy Sherman: The anti-ode to fashion photography
Back in 1994, Rei Kawakubo (of Comme des Garçons) and Cindy Sherman (the artist of a thousand faces) created a series of photographs that would become the campaign for CDG's new season. Both artists, known for thoroughly challenging the status quo of their respective industries, joined forces to push the conventions of the time even further.
Rei Kawakubo, an undeniable fashion influence since the 80s, always approached her work from two perspectives: challenging the conventions of Western clothing (which she found overly conservative) and embracing the soul of the contemporary art sector. Thus, her conceptualism merged with Cindy Sherman's anti-fashion sentiment, an artist known for her transformative skills in front of the camera. Together, they created a symbolic collection in fashion, shattering the norms of what was considered a fashion campaign.
The Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress: a reference since 1965
We had to conclude this article with perhaps the greatest reference in recent history regarding the merging of art and fashion: the Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress. During his rise, Yves Saint Laurent decided to merge his passion for polychromy and art with Piet Mondrian's work, launching the famous dress that has become entrenched in the collective imagination.
The pieces, composed of the figures from Mondrian's famous painting "Composition in Red, Yellow, and Blue," formed a range of straight-cut 1960s cocktail dresses by Saint Laurent, infused with Piet Mondrian's geometric love. This action was part of a generation of challenges to fashion, led by creators like Saint Laurent, André Courrèges, and Pierre Cardin. These designers, based in the Paris of the time, began to forge connections between fashion and contemporary culture, drawing inspiration from space exploration and the rise of music bands.
As evident from collaborative actions like these, fashion and art share an intrinsic bond. The distinction in nomenclature, when speaking of fashion and art as separate concepts, becomes necessary only to contextualise the purpose of many of these works: being worn. While fashion can be characterised as wearable art, particularly in haute couture, we cannot ignore that even some of these pieces are conceived as museum pieces rather than consumer items.