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WHEN FASHION MEETS ART: THE MOST ICONIC COLLABORATIONS OF ALL TIME

With Frieze in full swing, revisit some of the best art-inspired collections

This article was originally published on harpersbazaar.com

Lobster dresses, pretend boutiques and bags invaded by wide-eyed Sootsprites… Wonderful things happen when fashion and art collide. In celebration of Frieze, we’re shining a spotlight on our favourite artist-designer collaborations, from Louis Vuitton’s desire-inducing capsules to a crustacean-emblazoned gown.

Louis Vuitton x Takashi Murakami
Louis Vuitton’s longest-standing collaboration defined a generation. In 2003, under the Creative Directorship of Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton tapped artist Takashi Murakami to redefine the house’s classics. Iconic bags including the Speedy and Pochette were reimagined with a multicoloured monogram and decorated with anthropomorphised cherries, and promptly appeared on the arms of ‘00s It girls Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, et al. Ultra-collectable to this day, the bags continue to appreciate in value.

Elsa Schiaparelli x Salvador Dalí
When writing about the most iconic designer-artist collaborations of all time, it would be remiss not to mention Salvador Dalí’s Lobster Dress for Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1937 collection, though rarity makes it un-gettable. (Schiaparelli donated it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it is housed to this day.) Crafted from off-white, silk-organza, the dress – which was worn by Wallis Simpson – features a crimson waistband, illustrated sprigs of parsley and, most importantly, a giant painted lobster. Allegedly, Dalí wanted to add mayonnaise to the dress but Schiaparelli vetoed the idea.

 

Stella McCartney x Yoshitomo Nara
‘We are punks,’ declared bags, knits and T-shirts from Stella McCartney’s 2021 capsule with Japanese neo-pop artist, Yoshitomo Nara. The unisex collection celebrated non-comformity, resistance and rebellion, via Nara’s cute-yet-sinister, cherubine children and defiant slogans, writ unapologetically large upon totes, tees and hoodies.

 

Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama
Artist Yayoi Kusama brought her signature dots to Marc Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton in 2012, with a collection that spanned ready-to-wear and accessories. Think modish mini dresses and bow-embellished shoes – as well as bags such as the Lockit tote – all in Kusama’s preferred palette of red, yellow, black and white. Good news for avid collectors – 10 years after the collaboration’s debut, Louis Vuitton will be launching a second collection with Kusama, coming January 2023.

 

Gucci x Unskilled Worker
After being gifted one of Helen Downie’s illustrations, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele invited the artist – best known by her Instagram moniker, Unskilled Artist – to collaborate on a 40-piece capsule collection. The British painter’s distinctive, wide-eyed characters appeared on bags, dresses, scarves, and more.

 

Louis Vuitton x Richard Prince
A trip to the Guggenheim in 2007 to see Richard Prince’s Spiritual America exhibition inspired Marc Jacobs, then Creative Director at Louis Vuitton, to collaborate with the artist. The house’s Spring/Summer 2008 show featured 12 iconic supermodels wearing translucent nurse uniforms (an homage to Prince’s famous Nurse paintings) and – somewhat prophetically – lace face masks, as well as bags emblazoned with artwork from Prince’s Jokes series.

 

Alexander McQueen x Damien Hirst
Given their shared love for skull motifs, Alexander McQueen and Damien Hirst’s scarf collaboration in 2013 seemed like a natural fit. Two years after McQueen’s death and 10 years since the launch of his iconic skull scarf, the house teamed up with the trailblazing artist to create a collection of 30 limited-edition designs, each featuring adapted work from Hirst’s Entomology series.

 

Loewe x Studio Ghibli
We had to mention the ingenious coming together of Loewe and Japanese animation company, Studio Ghibli. Iconic films My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away served as inspiration for the 2021 and 2022 capsules, respectively. Loewe’s signature Puzzle bag was reimagined with a smattering of Susuwatari (the studio’s mischievous Sootsprites), while T-shirts and hoodies were illustrated with fantastical scenes from the films.

 

Prada x Elmgreen & Dragset
A boutique filled with early aughts Prada treasures that’s permanently closed – the stuff of nightmares or a sculptural art installation? The latter – a non-functioning Prada boutique featuring shoes and bags from Prada’s Autumn/Winter 2005 collection – was erected in 2005 along U.S. Route 90 in Texas, by artists Elmgreen and Dragset. Though the sculpture was created five years before Instagram launched, it is, undeniably, highly Instagrammable, often snapped and geo-tagged by Prada fans making pilgrimages there.