It’s half-way through the A/W 2021 fashion season and – though there are no daily street photos of the attendees this year – the shows do go on. In celebration of the frequent intertwining of the fashion and art worlds, we’ve collated our favourite collaborations through the decades. From the sublime to the ridiculous…
Samuel Eto’o , John Mensah and Emmanuel Eboué in 'Unity' Portrait by Kehinde Wiley for PUMA
Dali and the lobster dress
The collab that launched all collabs, Salvador Dali’s famous lobster was emblazoned on a dress by Elsa Schiaparelli back in 1937 (the lobster, which was seen as a symbol of sexuality by Dali, came accompanied by delicate bunches of drifting parsley). Worn by It-Girl of the time Wallis Simpson, it was just one of Schiaparelli’s projects with the artist. The Tears Dress, featuring a trompe de l’oeil print by Dali, was produced just before World War II and features rips and a hooded veil to echo the troubling times; the skeleton dress, which was sewn with a sculptural suggestion of a ribcage and pelvis, was viewed as outrageous in its day. Schiaparelli also created a notable collection with Jean Cocteau, creating dreamy dresses with kissing faces and blushing roses on the back, or arms crossing on the front.
This Women's Dinner Dress by Elsa Schiaparelli was inspired by Dalí's series of lobster telephones
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Dave White’s Nikes
Artist Dave White began his career painting kicks for the sneaker cognoscenti, so the next logical step was his own set of Nikes. In 2012, the artist released two Air Jordan 1 styles in black and gold, complete with paint splatters and canvas details. Incredibly, the brand’s signature swoosh was omitted for the first time in history. As White’s work has evolved to include other preoccupations (notably the animal world and threats to its survival), so have his sneakers: for a 2016 collaboration with the British sneaker store chain size?, Nike used work from White’s Albion series (which depicted British wild animals) on a special release Air Max 95 pack. For his latest collaboration with the store, released in 2020, White created New Era clothing decorated with details of his expressionist paintings of sharks and the sea.
Dave White shows off his Air Max 95s, Nike x Size?
Magda Archer’s cuteness overload
An ongoing partnership with designer Marc Jacobs has brought Archer’s unique brand of twee pictures and knowing slogans to the fashion world, via embroidered knitwear, rainbow-coloured bags and corona-comfy loungewear. When the jumpers were first released in 2019, Harry Styles seemed to have one in every colour – proudly sporting his 'Stay Away From Toxic People' sweater on Ellen De Generes (Dua Lipa and Kaia Gerber have also been pictured in the range). If you want to get in on the act, sweatshirts, travel bags and joggers are still available online.
Mark Jacobs x Magda Archer capsule collection
Madonna’s Keith Haring leathers
Haring’s signature style crops up on a plethora of collaborations brought about through his foundation – from pretty Alice + Olivia dresses to Uniqlo sweatshirts and Coach bags. But long before his designs were widely used, the artist formed a fashion partnership with a young and highly ambitious Madonna. Back in 1984, when the Queen of Pop was just launching her career and sometimes sleeping on Haring’s sofa, the artist painted some of her leather outfits for performances on the British show Top of the Pops and at his own birthday party. In fuschia pink and monochrome (with one of her signature corsets underneath), the much-photographed outfits were a key part of Madonna’s early signature style. In the same year, Haring went one step further with his stage costumes, emblazoning geometric prints on a nearly-naked Grace Jones for a music video and her performance at the Paradise Garage in New York.
Murakami’s multi-coloured LVs
In the heady days of 2003, when Vuitton’s monogrammed LVs were on every arm in Bond Street (and every market stall across the entire globe), the company partnered with Japanese legend Takashi Murakami on an accessories line that would swiftly become a celebrity favourite. Seen on everyone from Paris Hilton to Sarah Jessica Parker, Murakami’s bags and purses reinterpreted the brand’s trademark monogram style in candy colours, or painted flowers and signature Manga-like characters on top of the classic design. Murakami’s collab was so successful that it only went out of production in 2015 after 13 years – the bags are now so in demand that they sell for several times their original price on vintage fashion sites.
Takashi Murakami x Lous Vuitton cherry blossom handbag
Kehinde Wiley’s couture commission
In an abrupt turn from traditional fashion collaborations, trailblazer Wiley enlisted a fashion designer to help with his work rather than the other way round. In 2012, the artist commissioned Riccardo Tisci (then Creative Director of Givenchy) to design dresses for a series of portraits of black women which, in Wiley’s trademark style, would echo the look of Old Masters. The result was An Economy of Grace, a stunning series of paintings in which women from Harlem, Brooklyn and Queens were depicted in dresses inspired by antique paintings found in the Louvre. Two years previously, Wiley had worked with Puma, painting portraits of African footballers ahead of the 2010 World Cup, with some of the resulting patterns printed onto shoes, t-shirts and jackets.
Paintings from Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace, photographed by Jason Wyche
Sean Kelly, New York
KAWS’ BFF models for Dior
KAWS’ furry, pink BFF plush toy was the stand-out star of Dior Homme’s Spring 2019 ad campaign: sporting a furry black suit, it laid casually behind the collection’s other models in a selection of photographs by Steven Meisel. The ads were part of a bigger collaboration between the artist and the brand: designer Kim Jones (for whom, it was the first Dior Homme collection) also used a gigantic BFF rendered in flowers to tower above the collection’s runway show, and charged KAWS with reimagining Dior’s trademark bee logo to accompany the collection (the artist came up with a a cartoonish insect with trademark Xs for eyes).
Images from the the Kim Jones Dior Men's Show, 2019
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Get to know the artists: Dave White, Mark Powell, Joe Webb, Delphine Lebourgeois, Oddly Head and Lauren Baker
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