Luxury Fashion is Art?

Editorial • 08/05/19

Louis Vuitton reopened its refurbished flagship store in Florence in March 2019 this time filled with art.  Works by Italian masters such as Osvaldo Medici del Vascello and Massimo Listri.

Fashion houses have a penchant for using art to promote both products through window displays, advertisements and billboards, or through in-store art exhibitions, on the catwalks and in fashion shows.

So is this a collaboration or a play at investing in art?

Luxury fashion brands have long collaborated with artists, studies suggested that an association with art allows commercial brands to be viewed as more luxurious. Major fashion houses have seen an array of artists from Jeff Koons x Louis Vuitton to Coco Capitan x Gucci use art collaborations to create and promote clothing collections. One step further, we see fashion brands investing in art. They are collecting valuable contemporary pieces moreover commissioning new pieces of art from both emerging and well-established artists.

Got a Gallery?

If you are looking for further evidence, galleries have been commissioned. Prada has the Fondazione Prada in Milan whilst Louis Vuitton has the Fondation in Paris, a homage to both architecture and art, with the Fondazione Prada designed by famous architects Rem Koolhaas, the later undertaken by Frank Gehry.

Prada’s private collection contains pieces from Jeff Koons and William N. Copley.  The brand commissions pieces by artists such as Anish Kapoor and Thomas Demand, while, pieces such as “Nu bleu aux bas verts” by Matisse and “Ladies and Gentlemen” by Warhol are part of Fondation Louis Vuitton’s private collection.

Comparisons have been made to the Florentine banking dynasty which was ruled by the Medici family in Renaissance Florence, from 1434 to 1737 (give or take a few years off due to expulsion.) The Medici family wealth was largely invested into that of sponsoring upcoming artists, The patronage had a huge impact on the Renaissance period allowing artists to focus on their work without having to worry about finance, as a result, decades later we have masterpieces and the legacy of the Medici family attached. Translate this to the modern day and we can draw parallels on modern brands who are attempting to re-create or master the components of an enduring legacy.

So the question is who will be the modern-day Medicis?



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