May 12, 2010

Art & Fashion

Although the recession has brought many economic downturns and financial upsets, these difficult times has in many ways taught us to reevaluate our core values and appreciate the simpler things. And with that, has come a revival and stronger necessity for the arts and culture. Whether it offers one a new sense of hope, freedom, or joy, the arts have always played a major role in enhancing our every day lives. And with our current economic state, the art scene is much more innovative and important than ever.

The fashion industry is a major part of this artistic resurgence, and it is evident in the recent growth of collaborations between artists and designers, new mixed media projects, and inventive initiatives. These rough times have brought fresh, exciting paths of cross-fertilization, where fashion, art, music, and literature can all intermix on one platform.

Let's begin with one of the most apparent trends: fashion films. Today, cinematography is an essential tool of fashion marketing for any forward-thinking fashion house. Bringing music, movement, and story-telling together, small up-and-coming designers and international fashion houses alike take advantage of film to add dimension to their brand, while offering something more personal and unique to their audience. Marni, for example, recently collaborated with video artist Rohan Wadham for its 2010 summer collection, which was released in January. And Prada collaborated with the Chinese avant-garde film maker Yang Fudong to create a nine-minute black-and-white silent film, titled "First Spring". Yves Saint Laurent, Marni, Rebecca Taylor, and Steven Alan -- none of whom have ever advertised on television -- have all released online films within the last six months. Steven Alan is currently working on his next film project due out in the fall, collaborating with four directors to each produce a film on the same theme.

Fashion designers have always been influenced by the art community; and over the years, the two worlds have become more integrated where it is no longer black and white. There is a growth of a more collaborative process where artists are further involved in fashion branding and design, creating mutual support amongst the fashion and art community. Chanel and their Mobile Art Project, Diesel and their sponsorship of new designers, Rolex and it's mentoring program, and Prada and it's art Fondazione are just a few examples. What is more unique about this, however, is that these financially difficult times have also influenced the luxury market to give back to communities, encouraging a spirit of compassion and modesty, along with creativity and culture.

Members of the LVMH Young Arts Project, photo via: How to Spend It

One of the pioneering corporate companies is Louis Vuitton. Their most recent program, the Young Arts Project, collaborates with five of London's leading art institutions -- the Hayward Gallery, the Whitechapel Gallery, Tate Britain, the Royal Academy of Arts and the South London Gallery -- to provide underprivileged teens ages 13 to 20 an opportunity to explore, learn, and express themselves through art. Its aim is expressed in a Louis Vuitton statement: "to nurture an exploration, enjoyment, and passion for the arts among young people which they can take into adult life and perhaps follow as a career pathway." Starting off as a three-year program, selected students will have the opportunity to attend a five-day-long Louis Vuitton Summer Academy, and be part of organized visits to auction houses and artists' and film studios. Encouraging local communities to have more access to the art world, Louis Vuitton, as a luxury brand, moves away from it's extravagant and materialistic stigma, as such programs bring a greater sense of social awareness and responsibility to the corporate scene. While corporate sponsorship has always been around, Louis Vuitton is a leader in developing projects that are both responsible while being innovative and creative.

 As we live in a time where everything is rapidly changing and evolving, fashion and art rise at the forefront for the vitality of our culture. And as Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic co-director of Hermès, states, "The only reason we support art is because the relationship between art and craft is the building block of civilization." So although the recession has brought many of us to focus more on budgeting our finances and observing what is going on in the stock market, perhaps we all need to take a deep breath, appreciate the beauty around us, and remember that the hope of our future lies far beyond what is in our bank account.

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