On Tuesday night in London, Victoria Beckham hosted a lovely-looking supper to showcase the Old Masters on exhibition in her store before their auction at Sotheby’s on Bond Street next month. By total coincidence, yesterday in London another Bond Street art destination—the Halcyon Gallery, directly opposite Sotheby’s—unwittingly flipped the concept.
Instead of a store hosting artworks, this was a gallery exhibiting works of fashion—which are themselves based on works of art. Created by the Malaysian label Farah Khan the collection offers around 30 hand-made couture dresses and skirts based on paintings including Van Gogh’s Irises, Monet’s The Women In The Garden, and Braque’s The Two Birds.
Now, of course, featuring works of art on pieces of fashion is nothing new: From Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian collection in 1965, via Rodarte’s Van Gogh collection in 2011, to Off-White’s current adoption of the Mona Lisa, it’s been done. What’s interesting about this art-meets-fashion exhibition is that some of the fashion is being shown alongside the original works that inspired them.
The stand-out example is a dress that reproduces in sequin the blooms of the 1950 Marc Chagall gouache, Les Deux Bouquets, along which it stands in the office of Halcyon’s founder, Paul Green. Then there is an 8-edition capsule of 10 ready-to-wear bomber jackets, also in sequins, based on a series of Andy Warhol re-iterations of advertising that is also on show at the gallery. These include Volkswagen, Van Heusen (Ronald Reagan), and Apple (Macintosh). There are also dresses which reinterpret the work of sculptor Lorenzo Quinn and modern British artist Marc Quinn, whose Arctic Fox Grounds of Hampstead is owned by one of Khan’s 200-strong roster of couture clients.
Farah Khan founded her brand 10 years ago as a passion project running alongside her primary occupation as president and founder of Melium, a group that distributes around 100 fashion brands in Malaysia and operates standalone stores for houses including Max Mara, Tod’s, and Givenchy. It has an atelier in Kuala Lumpur, and has held shows in Morocco and, most recently, Houston.
Khan said: “It’s a very private thing that we do. And I’ve seen a huge interest from the clients in acquiring pieces that are walking pieces of art—art in motion. It excites them, because they buy paintings because of emotion and then, obviously, if you can inhabit and move around in it that is something extraordinary and compelling.” One client due at last night’s formal showcase of the collection had told Khan she was planning to wear a Picasso dress based on her own Picasso. As you absolutely would. And even if you happen not to own a Warhol, those RTW bombers, priced pretty competitively, looked like a compelling wearable stopgap for until you do.