Focus | October 11, 2016

Collaborations in Flux

Fashion and design are experiencing intriguing creative dialogues with the worlds of art and music. The eyewear design sphere has produced some truly collectable pieces from the creative input of art and music

words  Sandra Battistel

We are intrigued by the creative minds behind the products we buy, while brands are ever more on a quest to create experiences and meaningful connections with their followers. Social media and fashion documentaries, like ‘Dior and I’, fulfil our curiosity for what happens in a-day-in-the-life of the design studios of our favourite creative talents.

Although art is often the inspiration behind many fashion collections, artists are recently transcending their mere muse status, their involvement with brands has evolved and become stronger; artists interpret the brand’s designs or decide to take on new creative challenges, trying their hand at designing small collections and limited edition products. Far from just a capricious desire to do something other than creating art or music, artists apply the creative process they honed in the arts to fashion, as another way to create a strong connection with their followers.

This picture: inspired by a 60s’ design, style 0122 by Cutler and Gross was made in the ‘80s and became popular among artists. David Hockney turned this style into an icon

In the past artists picked eyewear to define their appearance, creating iconic looks; think David Hockney’s “0122” black, round glasses by Cutler and Gross. Today artists feel empowered to engage more than ever before with fashion and for many, eyewear has been a great way to express themselves, in this realm.

A great example is Retrosuperfuture’s collaboration with visionary artist and architect Shawn Maximo and cult magazine Pin-Up to create the Day II Nite sunglasses, translating his signature style of futuristic hybridism into an innovative pair of sunglasses. The result is a contemporary twist to the classic round shape of the architect’s glasses à la Le Corbusier, based on Retrosuperfuture’s innovative Tuttolente series and evolving the design and technology they introduced in 2015 with a layered concept.

This picture: the colour collaboration was done in tandem with Ørgreen Optics’ in-house colour advisor Sahra Lysell. Together they created three limited edition colour versions of the brand’s Capote sunglasses.

Pawaka has a strong connection with art and the brand recently gave LA based creatives Amelian Kashiro Hamilton and Dicko Chan the freedom to fuse their creative energies by expressing their interpretation of PAWAKA’s designs, through an unconventional interpretation of beauty and style, calling attention to questions of identity. Both artists have been strongly influenced by their heritage; Amelian has American, Japanese and African influences, while Dicko is a Hong Kong born, L.A. based photographer.

Gone are the days where fashion designers removed themselves from the world, to create in the ivory towers of fashion, the world of music and art no longer provides only stylistic inspiration; today’s fashion designers have a desire to create more meaningful connections with the artists that inspire them. Some say superstar designers are over. Yet, a product without an author remains just a product: lifeless and anonymous. It’s always a personal point of view — married with technical skills — that leads to something desirable. Creation is giving way to storytelling through the power of image and contemporary eyewear is as much about image-making as it is about craft. Everything looks picture-worthy and what really seduces consumers is a powerful image and artists are well placed to create the perfect one.

This picture: the Day II Nite sunglasses are made using Retrosuperfuture®’s innovative Tuttolente concept, based on laser-cut Zeiss lens for the entire structure of the frame.

Brands want to draw parallels between several disciplines, from music, to art, photography and of course fashion, bringing together creative minds from so many disciplines, like never before. Looking to the world of music, Danish eyewear brand Ørgreen Optics collaborated with Paris-based, American jazz singer Melody Gardot on a series of limited edition colours for the brand’s Capote sunglasses. Fashion is no longer a standalone entity, no creative endeavour is a disconnected island in this hyper-connected world, turning products into conversations between many participants: consumers, artists, magazines and curated spaces. It feels good to have such unique voices added to the local fashion conversation.