9 Important Fashion Designers with Incredible Art Collections
These designers care about what's on their wall as much as what's on your body.
It’s a hot topic of discussion: is the fashion world engulfing the art world? Or is this increasing rate of cross-pollination better for both worlds? Francois-Henri Pinault, luxury goods magnate and owner of Christie’s, told New York Times fashion director and chief critic, Vanessa Friedman, that “art and fashion now occupy the same physical space in society” (see: François-Henri Pinault Says Fashion Should Not Exploit Art for “So-Called Respectability”).
Over a century ago, the couturier Jacques Doucet was a proponent of collecting art of his time; he purchased one of Picasso’s masterpieces, Les Demoiselles D’Avignon (1907), which is now housed in the Museum of Modern Art. Designers today are following in Doucet’s footsteps, making art a personal journey, not a commercial one. Below are nine designers who have incredible personal art collections.
1. Raf Simons
The Belgium design prodigy, who says he was inspired to begin a career in fashion after seeing Martin Margiela’s all-white collection in 1991, is also an avid art collector. His collection includes works by Evan Holloway, Mike Kelley, Brian Calvin, and Sterling Ruby—whom he closely collaborated with on a his men’s ready-to-wear fall 2014 collection. Ruby’s spray-paint works were also the main source of inspiration for printed dresses in Simons’ first couture collection for Dior (see Raf Simons Turns Sterling Ruby’s Art into Haute Couture in New Dior Documentary and Will Art Fill the Runways at New York Fashion Week?)
2. Tom Ford
Tom Ford has a strong interest in acquiring blue-chip names such as Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Ad Reinhardt, and Ellsworth Kelly. Ford, who garnered critical acclaim with his film, A Single Man (2009), has also snapped up works by fellow artist-filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson, the director of 50 Shades of Grey. The American designer credited for revamping Gucci in the late 1990s by championing sex appeal, fittingly has a vagina-themed room in his house, where one can find Ellsworth Kelly “slit” paintings in abundance. He told New York magazine that “penises are harder to hang.”
3. Karl Lagerfeld
Although the legendary German designer shed his contemporary art collection in 1972 to focus on his burgeoning furniture and objects d’art treasures, he still keeps a few Helmut Newton nudes tucked away in one of his many apartments. The Chanel creative director seems to reinvent himself through redecorating his homes. He once filled his Rome apartment with furniture from the Wiener Werkstatte and another home in the same city was inspired by “ateliers of Nordic painters in the 1800s,” according to the New York Times Magazine. (See See Inside Fashion Guru Karl Lagerfeld’s Retrospective at German Museum).
4. Rick Owens
The American cult designer has made his name creating excellently draped, asymmetrical, avant-garde clothing for those who wish to look unconventional. His home in Paris, which has a wide array of unconventional alabaster and petrified wood furniture he designed himself, also houses an impeccable collection of idiosyncratic art that blends well with his aesthetic. Among his few art pieces include a unique wall fresco by Scarlett Rouge, an antique urn by Georges Hoentschel, marble sculptures by Barry X Ball, and a work by Horst Egon Kalinowski (see Giant Sculpture of Designer Rick Owens Lands at Selfridges).
5. Issey Miyake
The Japanese designer Issey Miyake is perhaps most famous for his pleated separates, and it’s no surprise that he seeks inspiration from art and architecture. In 2007, Miyake opened up his own design museum with architect Tadao Ando to highlight Japanese innovation. Miyake’s office boasts a massive circular work made from discarded foil and cigarette packs by Tim Hawkinson, who he’s also collaborated with in the past. His impressive list of collaborators on his Pleats Please line includes Cai Guo-Qiang, Yusumasa Morimura, and Nobuyoshi Araki, among others.
6. Marc Jacobs
The designer, who had been at Louis Vuitton’s creative helm for more than a decade, began enthusiastically collecting contemporary art in 2002. “I just got this bug. I started going to galleries, and I kind of went mad,” he told W Magazine. Known for instigating LVMH’s cash cow model of artist collaborations, beginning with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, it makes sense that Jacobs has some blue-chip works in his private collection. In a 2007 profile of the designer, W uncovered a Paul McCarthy Pinocchio sculpture, a 12-foot Ed Ruscha painting, eight John Currins, several canvases by Elizabeth Petyon, Lisa Yuskavages, John Baldessari, and Richard Prince that were scattered throughout his Paris home (see Christian Viveros-Fauné Selects 15 Artists to Watch in 2015).
7. Lisa Perry
Funky dress designer Lisa Perry and her husband, whose firm, Perry Capital LLC, owns a controlling interest in Barneys New York, are fervent art collectors. A massive green jewel by Jeff Koons occupies space atop their penthouse apartment, which “they had to lift up with a crane” to install, the designer said. The couple’s Pop art apartment also boasts a table by Yves Klein, a medicine cabinet by Damien Hirst, and several pop art paintings including ones by Mel Ramos, Martial Raysse, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, and Andy Warhol. Perry has also collaborated with several artists or their estates on special items for her fashion line.
8. Tommy Hilfiger
The American designer’s eponymous preppy brand has gone through several identities (R&B singer Aaliyah and pop princess Britney Spears were once brand ambassadors), but one thing remains consistent—his love for art. The designer, along with his wife, Dee Ocleppo, wanted to have a space to house their sizable pop art collection, which includes works by usual suspects Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tracey Emin, Keith Haring, and Damien Hirst. As a result, their modernist Miami residence, which can be toured via photos at Architectural Digest, is a clash of colors and textures. As Ocleppo put it, “If it’s not shagadelic or groovy, it’s not coming into the house.”
9. Miuccia Prada
With her business partner and husband, Patrizio Bertelli, Ms. Prada has managed to conquer both the fashion and art world while successfully keeping them separate from one another. Earlier this year there was much buzz around the hotly-anticipated opening of the new Rem Koolhaas-designed Fondazione Prada location in Milan that would house significant parts of the couple’s extensive contemporary art collection (see Take a Look Inside Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli’s New Fondazione Prada). Visitors to both their Milan and Venice locations will find works by Robert Gober, Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst, Piero Manzoni, Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, Rosemarie Trockel, and Sarah Lucas.
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