Conference Presentation: “Rich Relations: The Evolution and Uneasy Symbiosis of Art and Fashion” May 12, 2017, Ryerson University

I presented my paper: “Rich Relations: The Evolution and Uneasy Symbiosis of Art and Fashion” at the Nouveau Reach: Past Present and Future of Luxury Conference on Friday May 12, 2017. :


The new Fondation Louis Vuitton (LV) is the latest incarnation of the corporate/art mega-partnership, highlighting the increasingly uncomfortable relationship between art and fashion. This research explores the cartography between autonomous art culture and fashion commerce and the increased blurring of their overlapping borders. From its earliest roots, art was used to codify and communicate what was fashionable, powerful and luxurious: from the finery on frescoed Renaissance religious patrons, to Fragonard holding up a gilded Rococco mirror to the indulgences of the Ancién Regime. Later, designers like Poiret consciously used art as a marketing device to elevate cultural associations with his brand. Recently however, through institutional mega art projects like LV and the Fondazione Prada, fashion seek not just to legitimize itself, but to position itself as patron-cum-collaborator. LV has used the artistic practices of Sprouse, and Murakami on bags and has staged the performative tableaux of Vanessa Beecroft, inadvertently spotlighting the capitalist foundations of the art world, and moving the artwork into increasingly commercial manifestations. The art world has been happy to take the money, but is ambivalent towards the commercialization that co-branding brings. Especially since the highest grossing exhibits at hallowed cultural institutions-like the McQueen retrospective at the Met-have been fashion-based. Fashion seems to have gone past sponsorship and is now colonizing the art practices it funds, threatening the cultural perception of art qua art. And as evidenced by the repeated vandalizations of the Prada Marfa installation, not all are in favour of this new collaboration.

Keywords: Fashion Theory, Art history, Trends, Authorship, Luxury

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