Fashion month has commenced and with it a cross-cultural, cross-pollinated series of art events. As always, it’s more than clothes on display. Sculptures, illustrations and even theatrical performances are underway. Refinery29’s 29Rooms certainly leads the art pack from the scope and scale perspective, but it’s far from the only immersive experience. Artists honor the art form of fashion in so many ways—or find themselves in close proximity. The following five art experiences offer vastly different perspectives and represent distinct styles. Some hail from famous artists and others mark a debut into the NYC art world. All can be looked at for inspiration during the chaos of fashion month, but are truly bigger than this moment.
Gray M.C.A.’s “Drawing on Style: Three Masters of Elegance”
It’s almost hard to believe it, but “Drawing on Style” happened to be the first-ever exhibition in New York City dedicated to fashion illustration. Curator Connie Gray brought the 60-piece exhibition from London (where it has been on display for five years), setting it up as a pop-up experience in NYC’s Cheryl Hazan Gallery. The original works were drawn from three different artists, iconic illustrator Kenneth Paul Bock, and contemporary masters Bil Donovan and Jason Brooks. Block was once the chief artist for WWD, and greatly impacted Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and more. “Posture and gesture, where his trademark above everything,” Gray explains to us. Regarding Donovan, the first-ever official artist in residence at Dior who began in 2009, “he only works live, never from a photograph, and only with a paintbrush. He creates this incredible sense of movement, romance and emotion in just a few strokes,” Gray adds. British artist Brooks works almost entirely in silhouette. The installation he created for this show sold, but a second edition exists. While the in-person NYC exhibition has ended after a six day run, all of the works can be explored online at Gray M.C.A. Gallery. “Fashion illustration has always been considered a commercial form of art, until now,” Gray concludes. When surveying the diversity of works and potency of their style, it’s easy to understand what Gray means.
Spike Jonze + American Express’ “Changes” for Opening Ceremony
Continuing down the path of alternative fashion show experiences, Opening Ceremony tapped director Spike Jonze and choreographer Ryan Heffington. The resulting performance, “Changers,” features Mia Wasikowska and Lakeith Stanfield dancing through an emotionally-turbulent narrative, all adorned in the latest Opening Ceremony collection. Wasikowska flapped about the stage (quite literally), gracefully and with dramatic force. Stanfield countered with substantial depth as his character’s arc took darker turns. Presented in the East Village’s La MaMa Experimental Theater Club by American Express Platinum, the energetic dance story truly captivated. Tickets were available through Amex Platinum—as well as to a special event on 18 September at 8PM, including a special Q&A with the designers, Spike Jonze and talent from the show.
Art + Commerce: The Exhibition
To celebrate their 30th anniversary, globally acclaimed talent agency Art + Commerce has set up Art + Commerce: The Exhibition. The agency has long represented to talent in the fashion industry—from photographers and stylists to the makeup artists and set designers. The exhibition reflects their extraordinary access and influence. On site, works by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari abut those of Steven Meisel and Robert Mapplethorpe. Guy Bourdin, Larry Fink, Cass Bird all have a place. In fact, 35 of Art + Commerce’s artists are present through contributions across multiple media. There’s also a pop-up shop on site where attendees can snag works. The exhibition will run through 12 September at at Skylight Modern.
Vivienne Westwood, Andreas Kronthaler and Juergen Teller Exhibition
Rarely, if ever, does an in-store exhibition feel as exciting as the one within the walls of Vivienne Westwood‘s flagship NYC store. Vivid, provocative and altogether beautiful images affixed to the store’s walls chart the artistic relationship between Westwood, Andreas Kronthaler and Juergen Teller since the early ’90s. The exhibition includes editorials, campaigns, satire and on-the-fly portraits. It will ultimately become a touring exhibition after its NYC run—and a book from Teller’s studio has been published to accompany it all. On the walls (and on the pages), color confronts form and structure. Of course, fashion plays a hand, but this is about collaboration and inspiration. And some of the eclectic collection truly comes as a surprise. The exhibition will run through the end of October at 14 E 55th St, New York.
Visionaire Presents Daniel Arsham’s “LUNAR GARDEN”
In the Gallery of Cadillac House—just beyond the CFDA shop—multi-format art and fashion publication Visionaire‘s Cecilia Dean and James Kaliardos invited Daniel Arsham to build a reprieve. The colorblind artist worked with pink (in gradient) for the first time, and developed his own interpretation of a Japanese rock garden, complete with a soothing soundscape. The contemplative, organic space sets a tree and fountain in sand, before a sun-like light source. Nature-inspired sensations beget a willing suspension of disbelief—as visitors commit to otherness. Known as “Lunar Garden,” the experience will change weekly with Arsham personally raking the sand. “We wanted people to be able to come in here and focus,” Kaliardos explains. “For us, we love public art,” Dean adds. “It’s especially thrilling to us, because what we usually do is quite exclusive. Something like this is free and open to the public—and it’s in a place where people aren’t expecting to have an art experience.” The work will be up through 5 November 2017.
“Changers” image by BFA, Vivienne Westwood image by Juergen Teller, “LUNAR GARDEN” images by Plamen Petkov, illustrations courtesy of Connie Gray, and Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari image courtesy of Art + Commerce