Despite the economy and all the changes that are taking place worldwide, art still holds a special place in our hearts. At least I hope so, because art is something that transcends the times, something that speaks to the human existence in a unique way. When presented with an artwork, we experience it with our senses and intellect. What we’ve seen, heard or touched becomes a lasting, sometimes even life-changing, impression. Over the past few decades, almost every fashion house or brand has been associated with the arts through events, collaborations, foundations, commissions or sponsorship. The list of brands involved is quite impressive as we note some of the biggest names in the luxury world today.
A Passion for Creation
Ever since Marc Jacobs’ arrival as Artistic Director in 1997, Louis Vuitton has been actively associated with the realm of art on a global level. In cooperation with the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, Louis Vuitton held an exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. “Louis Vuitton: A Passion for Creation” took place during the 17th French May Arts Festival 2009. A great opportunity to get to know the brand, this exhibition showcased the Louis Vuitton’s historic suitcases, collaboration with contemporary artists, Frank Gehry’s project for Fondation Louis Vuitton Pour la Création, and finally, an entire exhibition area dedicated to seven Hong Kong artists. Displayed were works by Takashi Murakami, Stephen Sprouse, Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cao Fei, Yang Fudong, Paul Chan, etc. The Hong Kong Museum of Art even dressed up for this large-scale exhibition, as artist Richard Prince wrapped up the whole building with his “After Dark” Series, making it stand out on the shoreline of Victoria Harbour.
In a fashion, finance and arts hub like Hong Kong, Art HK is an event not to be missed. Every May, it is where luxury brands, local artists, international press and enthusiasts gather under one roof. This year, artist Chow Chun Fai collaborated with Shanghai Tang and reinterpreted “Chinese identity” by re-acting classic TV dramas and re-portraying famous paintings by French painter Edouard Manet. He performed at Shanghai Tang’s Pedder Street flagship shop, and all his works were displayed at the art fair. Playing with both classical and contemporary Chinese and western themes in his performances, Chow echoed Shanghai Tang’s infusion of varied Chinese cultures.
A Modern Classic
The new and the old coexist in today’s China, and the two create an interesting dialogue of what’s “classical” and what’s “contemporary” in a rapidly changing country. Who would have known that a modern masterpiece by Ulysse Nardin would become part of the collection at Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum? The “Temple of Heaven” Enamel Cloisonne Watch has been chosen to be a permanent item in the museum’s enamel collection. As a World Cultural Heritage site, Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum houses an impressive collection of Chinese artefacts. For its superb craftsmanship of enamel, the Ulysee Nardin watch is an example of how this ancient art is applied to modern watchmaking. The watch was even taken on the “Ulysse Nardin Enamel Cloisonne Exhibition Tour” in Macau, Hong Kong, Xi’an, then to Dalian, Harbin, Shanghai, Beijing, etc.
Indeed, “art” does not necessarily have to be something abstract understood only by those in the art circle. For example, fashion is the everyday interpretation of art itself. It is not too bold to say that fashion houses can be credited for making art something tangible and appreciated by global consumers. A fashion maison like Dior continues Monsieur Christian Dior’s innovative spirit not only with its seasonal collections, but also with exhibitions like “Christian Dior and Chinese Artists” held in Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA). To experience the Dior universe in China’s capital was a unique experience. Chinese artists such as Li Songsong, Liu Jianhua and Quentin Shih boldly experimented with the Dior logo, elements and silhouettes – often with provocative results.
With the wealth of projects between global brands and artists, it is apparent that the concept of luxury nowadays is inseparable with art. The world of luxury is a diverse one, and art plays a major role in defining a modern, sophisticated lifestyle. Next time you go shopping, why not ask your favourite brand in store to find out if it works with any artists? You might just discover new luxuries on your next trip.
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Richard Hambleton Exhibits at Armani Teatro