This year, for the first time, the British Fashion Council (BFC) and the Royal Academy (RA) Schools have joined forces on Fashion Art Commissions, an innovative project that pairs fashion designers and visual artists, asking them to work together to produce new works across art forms. The extraordinary pieces produced by the teams were on view at Christie’s King Street and are now offered in Portfolio, an online auction at Christie’s from 23 November to 6 December.
Video: British Fashion Council Fashion Arts Commissions
‘Little did we know when we started out on this collaboration between the Royal Academy Schools and the British Fashion Council what extraordinary works would be produced,’ says Eliza Bonham Carter, Head of the Royal Academy Schools and curator of Fashion Art Commissions. ‘The collaborative pairs of artists and designers have discovered commonalities and divergences in their interests and processes to produce works that are bold, surprising and intriguing.’
Agi & Sam, Joe Frazer, Gate E, Row G, Seats 15-18, Aluminium, steel, polyester. Photograph by Andy Keate
Agi (Mdumulla, left) & Sam (Cotton, far right) first met in 2008 while interning for Alexander McQueen before going on to work for other brands such as Karl Lagerfeld and J.W. Anderson. With a strong emphasis on bespoke textiles and humour, they believe that fashion should never be taken too seriously. Joe Frazer (middle) lives and works in London. He often uses textiles in his works and explores notions of identity and masculinity
The inaugural Fashion Art Commissions class consists of four artist/designer teams: Agi & Sam and Joe Frazer; Alex Mullins and Amy Petra Woodward; Diego Vanassibara and Victoria Adam; and Kit Neale and Jonathan Trayte. The latter created Milk, a new pop-up café/installation in the annex of Christie’s King Street HQ.
Diego Vanassibara & Victoria Adam, Adelaide. Jesmonite, steel, audio, speaker. Photograph by Andy Keate
The project unites two of the most influential forces in the worlds of British art and fashion: the Royal Academy and the British Fashion Council. The RA Schools have been integral to the Royal Academy of Arts since its foundation in 1768, while the British Fashion Council was established in 1983 to promote British fashion internationally.
Kit Neale & Jonathan Trayte, Milk. Marble, granite, limestone, slate, powder-coated steel, stainless steel, beech, elm, alder, oak, plywood, light fittings, plants, paint, ceramic, concrete, resinated plaster, pigment, adhesives, rubber, leather, fabrics, string, casters, glass
Jonathan Trayte (left) graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2010. His approach to making sculpture and installation is informed by our global language of consumption and the manipulation of consumer decision-making. London-born designer, printmaker and creative director Kit Neale (right) founded his namesake brand in 2012. He has worked on collaborations and special projects with IKEA, Coca-Cola and Lavazza
New Generation (NEWGEN), launched by the BFC in 1993, is one of the world’s top talent-identification schemes, offering young UK-based designers financial support and an important introduction to the international press and buyers. Past NEWGEN-backed talented includes such superstars as Alexander McQueen, Matthew Williamson, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou and Simone Rocha. NEWGEN MEN launched in September 2009, and has become instrumental in raising the profile of emerging British menswear designers.
Alex Mullins & Amy Petra Woodward, Jasmine. Trachelospermum jasminoides and mixed media
‘The Fashion Art Commissions project is about creating inspiring and educational content,’ says Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council. Cross-cultural partnerships ‘help push innovation and creativity, and having the fashion and art industries working together allows the participants to share knowledge and practices.’
Paola Saracino Fendi, Head of Online Auctions in the Post-War & Contemporary Art Department at Christie’s London, is thrilled by the results of the first effort. ‘The vibrant dialogue created between the young artists from the RA Schools and the fashion designers has been inspirational,’ she says. ‘Our vision for digital at Christie’s is to put together a selection of artworks that establish a visual conversation with contemporary art, and I am thrilled that these emerging young talents have chosen to showcase their new works in the context of our upcoming online auction. The title of the exhibition and auction, Portfolio, was chosen to highlight the strength of this incredibly diverse selection — it reads like a sketchbook of ideas, and I hope viewers find it as forward-thinking and exciting as I do.’
All proceeds raised from the auction will go to benefit the BFC Fashion Arts Foundation, one of the BFC’s registered charities.