Fashion Work 1993—2018 25 Years of Art in Fashion: An interview with the author

Bernadette Corporation F/W ’95 fashion show. Photography Cris Moor

 

 

 

When art and fashion meet (in an interesting way) both aesthetic categories are challenged: We are forced the rethink our basic ideas of consumption, function and aesthetics

 

 

 

 

N°04 Bags, 1998. Courtesy BLESS

 

Bernadette Corporation, BLESS, Susan Cianciolo, DIS

 

In a comprehensive and great work of literature, art historian, critic, former editor at DANSK, current writer for i-D and editor for Wallet (thank God the list of great accomplishments weren’t longer, as this paragraph would have far exceeded the recommended length for readability) Jeppe Ugelvig dives deep into the cross-disciplinary work of some of the most forward thinking creatives of the 90s. Through the works of Bernadette Corporation, BLESS, Susan Cianciolo, DIS and their until now unvisited archives, Ugelvig explores what happens when art and fashion meet and create a fantastic love baby, which is the subject of this book.

 

Ugelvig’s comprehensive account connects a mythological 1990s generation of collaborative, DIY fashion producers in New York, Paris and Berlin to the digital and increasingly corporate systems of fashion of the 2010s, where aesthetic activities such as styling and creative directing have become ubiquitous.” Damiani 

 

The Whoman Journal sat down with, or rather emailed with -both parties are, after all, part of the face-to-face fearing millennial generation – the man behind the words to discuss the book and what we can learn about the fashion industry today from the creatives of the 90s.

 

 

Bernadette Corporation S/S ’96 fashion show, backstage. Photography Cris Moor

 

 

I was fascinated by how creatives navigate the creative industry and use art and fashion systems to advance their work

 

 

 

You zoom in on quite a specific subject. Why has this period and perspective caught your interest? 

I am an art historian and critic with a background and continuing interest in fashion, so I think I always had a natural interest in connecting the two worlds in a theoretically and historical way. I was fascinated by how creatives navigate the creative industry and use art and fashion systems to advance their work. This model is emerging once again. I was motivated to write a new art history piece about this phenomenon: artists who enter fashion production from the 90s until today. Both as inspiration for creators of art and fashion today, and as a historic analysis of the creative industry.

 

 

 

BLESS SHOP 11, Kunsthalle, Basel. Courtesy BLESS

 

 

In your book you connect the 90s fashion/art scene with our digital age.  What can we learn about today’s industry and design by looking at the era of Bernadette Corporation? 

By just looking back 25 years, we see a lot of the promotion and communication methods in fashion aren’t new, but rather they’re developed by artists trying to engage in a critical way with the fashion industry. BLESS did the very first sneaker collaboration with Adidas, and also developed the “pop-up” store as a retail format. Susan Cianciolo was one of the first who invited artists, photographers and musicians to reinterpret her brand and use this as fashion communication.

 

 

Motherhood Incorporated. Courtesy DIS

 

 

Fashion and art meet in an uninteresting way when art is slapped onto a fashion object as pure marketing

 

 

 

In your eyes, what happens when fashion and art meets? Is there a difference in how this happened in the 90s and today? 

When art and fashion meet (in an interesting way) both aesthetic categories are challenged: We are forced to rethink our basic ideas of consumption, function and aesthetics and this is immensely interesting. By being challenged they are also expanded: forms of production and presentation can be shifted from one field to the other, or be mixed in new and hybrid ways. Fashion and art meet in an uninteresting way when art is slapped onto a fashion object as pure marketing – as a superficial extra value.  Or when artists create art “about” fashion (and often present it as a superficial, feminine culture). This is something we see a lot of today, way more than in the 90s, and I believe we need to challenge this.

 

 

 

 

Highly Effective People, 2009. Courtesy DIS
N°54 Remembrance Subito presentation, 2015. Courtesy BLESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You worked on the book for three years, are there elements that surprised you or something you learned? 

Besides the theoretical angle, the project documents social, art and fashion history by portraying the independent, young creatives in their attempt to survive the harsh conditions of the creative industries – In New York, Paris and Berlin. It has been such an honour to gain access to these stories and have the responsibility to pass them on to a wider public. It is always sensitive when it comes to creative authorship. “Who did what?” is an important question.

I have mostly been surprised by how the socioeconomic changes of the 90s were part of creating the creative industry today.

 

 

 

The book is launching March 19th at 6pm in Copenhagen at Charlottenborg, but can already be purchased now at Damiani.

 

 

 

Not For Everyone t-shirt. Courtesy DIS

 

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