Though marginalized at first, street art and graffiti has taken the world by storm over the last two decades, quickly evolving into a desirable art form. What started as a subversive and radical act of creative vandalism is now displayed and adored in galleries and museums worldwide. While street art has found its way into some of the traditional institutions of high art, the world now bears witness to another love affair: one between street art and high fashion.
Street art culture has had a long journey from the sidewalk to the catwalk. Ever since the late Stephen Sprouse defaced Louis Vuitton bags with brush-stroke graffiti in 2001, designers have embraced the edgy aesthetics of the art form to explore new territories in fashion. While some explain the phenomenon by street art’s visual and aesthetic appeal only, others see it as one of the many forms of commercialization of what once was regarded as part of subversive culture. From Louis Vuitton’s artistic experiments on silk to Balenciaga’s distressed leather accessories, PRØHBTD takes a look at some of the most interesting collaborations from the past few years.
JonOne x agnès b.
Acclaimed street artist JonOne recently collaborated with the designer agnès b. on her spring/summer 2018 collection titled Candy Crush. An American street artist based in France, JonOne is celebrated for his distinct Abstract Expressionist-style graffiti characterized by the explosion of energy and color. The artist first met agnès b. when he moved to Paris in the 1980s, a friendship that has resulted in numerous collaborations. Featuring art created for a series of 2015 shows, the latest collection includes items such as a cotton two-piece suit and t-shirt for men, as well as a short-sleeve shirt, silk-screened t-shirt, zip blouson, shorts and pants for women.
Philipp Plein x Alec Monopoly
The German fashion designer Philipp Plein and the Los Angeles graffiti artist Alec Monopoly joined forces to create mens/womenswear luxury collection Resort 2018. Originally from New York City, Alec Monopoly is known for using his signature cartoonish style as a vehicle for commentary on real-world problems. The capsule collection combines ironic graphics, including the artist’s signature Monopoly Man, with luxury materials and fine Italian craftsmanship. Fun and provocative, the collection includes hand-painted sneakers, t-shirts, sweatshirts, cashmere pullovers, jeans, leather jackets and handbags.
Louis Vuitton Artist Scarves
Every now and then, Louis Vuitton connects with contemporary visual artists to collaborate on bold capsule collections. In 2013, the luxury fashion house first presented the now iconic “Artist Scarves” collection, teasing the brand’s affinity for street art. Working with different artists for three fashion seasons in a row, the luxury label presented designs by RETNA, Os Gemeos, Aiko, eL Seed, Ben Eine, Eko Nugroh, Kenny Scharf, INTI, Andre Saraiva and Stephen Sprouse. The street art creatives re-imagined the regular giant silk scarf to give it a pinch of fresh unconventional energy. The collection was a huge success and each edition sold within hours after launch.
Gucci x Trouble Andrew
When ex-Olympic snowboarder Trouble Andrew needed a last minute Halloween costume, he cut a pair of holes in his fine Gucci bed sheets and created a so-called GucciGhost. As the idea took hold, he started decorating the streets of New York with his interpretation of the iconic Gucci logo, posting the images to social media using the hashtag #guccighost. Three years later, Gucci finally took notice. He was invited by the creative director of the fashion house, Alessandro Michele, to collaborate on the fall/winter 2016 collection. The collaboration includes both male and female apparel and accessories adorned with his signature “REAL LOVE” logo, as well as the iconic double “G” and ghosts.
Ray Ban x Mr. Brainwash
In 2015, the street artist Mr. Brainwash put his own spin on a few Ray-Ban styles, such as classic aviators and Wayfarers. Some speculated that Mr. Brainwash—an artist known for his thought-provoking graffiti pieces—might be a “puppet” of Banksy’s, or even Banksy himself. For a 250-piece Ray-Ban collection, the artist designed paint-splattered sunglasses and frames, reflecting his impactful use of bold colors in his street masterpieces. Each of the limited-edition styles came with a matching painted case and a mock spray paint.
Komono x Basquiat
In 2014, Komono brought the raw energy and beauty of Jean-Michel Basquiat to the world of fashion accessories. Collaborating with the Jean-Michel Basquiat estate, the Belgian brand dedicated to perfectly timed accessories created a limited-edition watch collection in the late artist’s honor. The collection is made of six designs, each with a distinctive fabric wristband depicting a different detail of a Basquiat painting. In this way, each watch was unique. Created to deepen and extend the brand’s trademark desire to blur boundaries, Komono once again bridged the gap between accessories and high art.
Marc Jacobs x BÄST
The celebrated fashion designer Marc Jacobs employed the creative power of urban artists several times. In 2014, he collaborated with the street artist BÄST to produce canvas high-top sneakers. Appropriating iconic images from 20th- and 21st-century mass culture, BÄST is known for creating collages of what he calls “mutated characters” and “mutated scenes.” The collection was limited to six pieces, and each was designed individually by the artist, making each pair a truly unique artwork as well as a collectible fashion item. Prior to this collection, Marc Jacobs collaborated with the American artist Wes Lang.
Lacoste x Honet
A French contemporary artist with an experimental style, Honet combines illustration drawn from his life as a traveler with the romantic exploration and recycling of abandoned, forgotten and hidden places. In 2010, the artist collaborated with Lacoste for Lacoste L!ve, a new clothing line for youth and young adults. The artist created colorful and dynamic designs for a range of pieces, including t-shirts, long sleeves and the iconic polo shirt. Prior to this, Honet had already collaborated with Ruby and Prada.
Manish Arora x Judith Supine
Using his mother’s name to remain anonymous, Brooklyn-based street, fine and installation artist Judith Supine is famous for his surreal collages that shine a light on the grotesque undertones of advertising imagery. The artist collaborated with Indian fashion designer Manish Arora on his autumn/winter 2012-13 line with designs that garnered dresses, tops and bottoms. Distinct Supine motifs such as green-skinned ladies, smokers and Brooklyn doyennes were splattered along with blossoms and moss across bolero jackets, pencil skirts and ’50s inspired ensembles.
KAWS x Pharrell x Comme des Garçons
Known for numerous collaborations, Pharrell Williams teamed with the celebrated street artist KAWS and the avant-garde fashion label Comme des Garçons in 2014 to create a fragrance called G I R L for both men and women. House + Holme designed the bottle, logo and packaging, while KAWS created the bold cartoonish artwork. Conceived by Pharrell, the perfume was created by Christian Astuguevieille, the creative director of Comme des Garçons Parfums. Scents of iris, styrax, violet, patchouli and cedar were all mixed into an irresistible pricy bottle.
Balenciaga Graffiti Collection
In 2017, Balenciaga’s controversial designer Demna Gvasalia presented a luggage collection inspired by graffiti. Simply titled Graffiti Collection, it combined grunge aesthetic with a mix of maximalist, spray-like printing and distressed leather. Encompassing a range of classic silhouettes such as the Classic City and Bazar Shopper, the collection included backpacks, pouches, handbags and wallets. Combining multiple colors and letters in different shapes, the bags were sophisticated yet eye-catching. With graffiti tags such as COUTURE and COLLECTION, Gvasalia openly poked fun at the high-fashion industry.