Stars in the same galaxy, fashion and art orbit each other constantly, sometimes falling into perfect alignment. The last time that happened, Marc Jacobs sought out reinterpretations of the stodgy Louis Vuitton logo from artists Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami, and splashed their updates on sold-out (and much knocked-off) editions of Vuitton’s classic doctor speedy bag. Not so long ago, all that, but eons according to the fast-moving fashion calendar and still in the early days of the latest – and still upswinging – art boom, a boom the Vuitton bags did much to foment, in fact.
In the years since, the contemporary art market has only gotten hotter. And with this year’s confluence of biennials (notably Venice) and festivals like Art Basel, the influence of art on culture, writ large, seems at last to have reached critical mass. Fashion has taken note: Last season, Rachel Comey worked with gallerist Mirabelle Marden on a capsule collection; next season, perennial art provocateur Damien Hirst will debut his collaboration with Levi’s, for its Warhol Factory X label. Interestingly, however, luxury fashion brands are eschewing the young talent heating up the art scene, preferring instead to look to the past for inspiration. Marc Jacobs’ fall ’07 show for Vuitton fetishized Vermeer; when John Galliano showed Dior couture this summer, he referenced paintings by the Impressionists and Dutch and Spanish masters, pen-and-ink drawings by artists such as Bouche, Bérard, and Cocteau, and the photography of Irving Penn. And in one of the mini Resort season’s loveliest outings, YSL’s Stefano Pilati managed a double homage, casting a loving look back at the original Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress by making a new one redolent of Cy Twombly. The Ab-Ex clothes comprised a small part of Pilato’s retro-cool collection, but proved just the kick needed to make it feel fresh. For once, the adage rings true: Everything old is new again.