The Insiders, Outsiders, and Party Animals Smashing Art and Fashion Together

Art and fashion have been in conversation as long as either has existed (can you imagine the Renaissance occurring without resplendent fits?), but as branches of global pop culture it seems the two have never been more powerful. And for a week every December, Miami becomes the epicenter of it all, where both worlds fully collapse into each other and take over all of our feeds.

For many years, Miami Art Week—technically a constellation of major art fairs like Art Basel, NADA, and Design Miami—was an industry event, a venue for blue chip galleries to move six- and seven-figure works to their wealthiest collectors, and for art insiders to take a vacation from winter in New York and London. And then art became the hottest thing in fashion. Since taking over Dior Men’s in 2018, Kim Jones has launched splashy artist collaborations with the likes of KAWS, Raymond Pettibon, and Amoako Boafo. Hedi Slimane turned Celine’s stores into the coolest galleries in any given city, merchandising his latest collections with the work of buzzy contemporary artists. Bottega Veneta replaced its Instagram with a vibey art zine. By the time Matthew Williams spent a year developing a Givenchy collection with Josh Smith, an NYC-based artist on David Zwirner’s roster, it felt weirdly normal that the head of one of Paris’s biggest luxury houses would be 3D-scanning ceramic basketballs in a Bushwick art studio to come up with the next It bag. And because Miami Art Week is a world away from the traditional fashion circuit, it became the perfect venue for these brands to showcase new ideas and unveil cross-culture collaborations.

Now, Art Week is for art about as much as Coachella is for music. This past December, the hottest ticket in town was not Art Basel’s VIP day but a seat at Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton spring-summer 2022 runway show, a multimillion-dollar production on a barge in Biscayne Bay. After Abloh, the groundbreaking Vuitton men’s designer, tragically passed away just days before, the show became just about the only thing anyone in Miami seemed to talk (or care) about.

Abloh had a keen sense of just how much art and fashion could amplify each other when they crashed together, which is why he was a ubiquitous presence at Miami Art Week over the years. “It was his favorite thing, being here in Basel, because everyone was here,” Denim Tears founder Tremaine Emory told me after the Vuitton show. Even though he wasn’t present in Miami, Abloh’s influence on a new generation of cross-pollinating creative directors could be felt. “This week, we’re here to embrace Virgil and his dream and his vision,” said A-Cold-Wall* designer and Abloh protégé Samuel Ross, who was following in his mentor’s footsteps by showing a collection of conceptual furniture at Design Miami.

Abloh also knew better than anyone that art insiders can be unwelcoming to interlopers. Once upon a time, the fashion crowd were the party crashers during Art Week. This year, they were the party. “When did it become Fashion Week?” asked model Jordan Barrett, who was in town to celebrate his 25th birthday with a function at Gitano. Saint Laurent designer Anthony Vaccarello kicked things off with the sexiest art fete since the reign of Louis XIV, a candlelit dinner attended by the likes of Hailey Bieber, Zoë Kravitz, and Olivia Rodrigo. The rest of the week saw enough bashes to make a cub rat’s head spin, with Givenchy, Loewe, Chanel, Valentino, Kering, Gucci, Balmain, Dior, Chrome Hearts, Burberry, Ferragamo, and Moncler flying in their own roster of A-listers for big-budget parties.

With all the energy in the air, it’s no surprise that Miami Art Week can still blow up a new name or two. Even the most committed partygoers made it over to the ICA to see Hugh Hayden’s show of large-scale sculptures that have firmly established him as a rising star. Hayden, who ditched his architecture career in 2018, is an Art Week veteran having his first major solo show. “It’s funny to be at Art Basel now that I’m really participating in it,” he told me. “It’s surreal.”

And then there was filmmaker, photographer, and poet Sky Hopinka, who was exhibiting a three-channel video installation, In Dreams and Autumn, at Broadway gallery’s Art Basel booth.

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