So, I wrote a new book.
Yep, a big old thing weighing in at 1.7kg and 320 pages. I won't say it was easy, but certainly rewarding now that it's finished and sitting proudly on my desk smiling at me. What's the story behind it? I met Alison Kubler, my co-author, through her husband Michael Zavros, an artist I’ve profiled a few times for various magazines, and she invited me to speak at a series of talks she was hosting at the State Library of Queensland back when my first book, Fashion: Australian & New Zealand Designers, came out in 2010. We got talking about the fashion-art crossover as something we were both generally interested in, me from a fashion background and Alison from the art world.
In total, it took around two years to write. Alison and I discussed it for a few months before pitching it to Thames & Hudson, our publisher, and then the process of it getting from there to being contracted took some time. There was probably a full year of writing and picture research, and then about six months of editing and proofing. It sounds like a really long time but oddly seemed to go pretty quickly, as does time when you’re up against a deadline. There’s also over 250 images and a really decent amount of text in there, and all of that does take enormous energy getting together when you think about the interview process, clearing image rights, the general administrative side of things.
The relationship between fashion and art is nothing new if you think historically – Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated with Surrealists, such as Salvador Dali, in the 1930s, and Yves Saint Laurent used his dresses as a canvas for Piet Mondrian-style prints in 1964. But like both the art and fashion worlds since the turn of
the millennium, the fashion-art connection has exploded in the 21st century in terms of the sheer number of projects, the size of them, the media attention they garner and the money they generate. This book therefore aims to document and interrogate the creative work and theoretical significant of the most important artists, designers, fashion houses and museums that have participated in this aspect of contemporary fashion.
Over the last decade major artists have teamed with the world’s leading fashion houses and designers to produce contemporary masterpieces that challenge the traditional boundary between these two dynamic cultures. From fashion designers’ collaborations with artists on their collections to runway shows shows, fashion photography, and dazzling new retail spaces like this very maison, this book explores the “art as fashion” and “fashion as art”, with Alison and I offering a dual perspective on how and why today’s artists and designers are increasingly open to inspiration beyond their own creative arenas. As you will see, the book is comprised of five thematic chapters, each with a series profiles of the key designers, stories about the most avant-garde projects, and interviews with leading figures in the art-fashion crossover, all of which is accompanied by nearly 250 beautiful images showcasing work from Acne Studios, Balenciaga, Hussein Chayalan, Tracey Emin, Jean Paul Gaultier, Zaha Hadid, Calvin Klein, Jeff Koons, Stella McCartney, Issey Miyake, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Juergen Teller, Viktor & Rolf, and Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton.
It seems only fitting this book should shine a light on those designers defining a new era of contemporary culture. In her foreword to the book, Daphne Guinness writes that ‘The question is not whether an item is created to be interpreted as art, but whether its designer is considered to be deserving on artist’s status. This book celebrates the work of those who, whether they like it or not, are revered as such.'