We are all for a new and fabulous exclusive collaboration, and when it’s one that brings together the worlds of fashion and art, that’s even better. After all, designers are frequently inspired by art, and artists often find themselves influenced by the fashion world, which is exactly why Wear LACMA was such an ingenious idea. Founded by fashion consultant Katherine Ross (the wife of LACMA director Michael Govan) in 2012, Wear LACMA is an ongoing collaboration in which the museum partners with LA-based designers to create limited-edition pieces inspired by the institution’s collection. “We thought this idea was a fun way for designers to express their love of a work of art and at the same time raise money to support LACMA,” says Ross.
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the museum this year, LACMA partnered with e-commerce website Farfetch on a very special collection of Wear LACMA, rallying 19 local designers to each create unique pieces inspired by the museum’s permanent collection. The talented group chose pieces as wide-ranging as 16th- and 17th-century European paintings, archival photographs and contemporary works. The list of participating designers and labels reads like a who’s who of the LA fashion scene: Anita Ko, Cathy Waterman, Clare V., Irene Neuwirth, The Elder Statesman, Juan Carlos Obando, Jennifer Meyer, Rodarte and Nick Fouquet, to name only a few.
“Since it is the museum’s golden anniversary, we wanted to make this edition of Wear LACMA special and celebrate all the amazing talented designers in Los Angeles,” says Ross of the collection, which goes on sale November 4. “The design community in Los Angeles is growing every day—I love all the creative talent here.” Unsurprisingly, it was not difficult to recruit the talent for this very special project. “To me [being a part of this collaboration] means everything, “ says Fouquet, whose in-demand, uber-luxurious hats have become something of a Los Angeles status symbol. “It’s been the greatest honor. I think it’s amazing that LACMA and Katherine Ross respect designers as artists. If there’s anything in my professional career I’m proud of, it’s being tapped to do this.” Inspired by the painting The Fortune Teller, Fouquet created 12 of his meticulously crafted hats for the collaboration. “This is such an honor and unique experience, I couldn’t just do one design,” he says. “I ended up picking a piece that really resonated with me. I envisioned 12 different fortune tellers from around the world who would wear different hats—eclectic but wearable. That was the inspiration.”
For 2012 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winter Greg Chait of The Elder Statesman, the chance to use art as inspiration was thrilling. “When Katherine and Michael took my team and I through the museum’s permanent collection it gave us a new appreciation for pieces that often get overlooked,” says Chait, who created a capsule collection of sweaters, hats, socks and scarves inspired by Granville Redmond’s California Poppy Field for the project. “I think that is what is so genius about this initiative—it sheds new light on masterpieces. When we stopped in front of the Redmond painting we knew right away that with the techniques we use we could capture the texture and spirit of [the work] and make something really unique.”
It-girl favorite designer Clare Vivier—known for her affinity for all things French—found the ideal muse in a French Revolutionary vest from the Costume and Textiles Department. “It felt like the perfect piece for us because it was French, but also because of the mix of patterns and text and the irreverence of the ensemble,” says the Clare V. designer. “We created two evening bags and a couple T-shirts for the collection.”
Seeing how the designers reinterpreted the masterpieces into fashion caused even Ross to take a second look at LACMA’s powerful and varied collection. “Each designer brings something different to the project,” she says. “So many of our visitors go to see the new exhibitions at the museum and often bypass the permanent collections. We have amazing works of art at LACMA and having these designers express what they love about them makes us want to revisit them.”