Back in 1951, Cecil Beaton drew vitriol when he incorporated Jackson Pollock paintings into one of his Vogue fashion spreads, apparently having relegated them to backdrops. That line between art and fashion has increasingly faded — creating designs as iconic as Piet Mondrian’s ’60s frocks for Yves Saint Laurent in the process. Master collaborator Rei Kawakubo might best encompass the reasons why: Her partnerships can be extremely organic, like when she adapted her swollen spring/summer 1997 collection for a Merce Cunningham dance after a sudden “intuitive feeling that it could become dancers’ clothes as well.”
But with 15 labels under her belt, Kawakubo is also looking for customers, and there’s no doubt that projects like her line of Comme des Garcons Play T-shirts and tote bags with Simpsons illustrator Matt Groening serve to draw a new type of exposure. Other houses have turned to art to make the finances more bearable, too — Bottega Veneta has practically turned their ad campaigns into an art form in themselves.
Fashion historians E. P. Cutler and Julien Tomasello have highlighted 25 of the best artist-designer collaborations in Art + Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons, a new book that stretches from Elsa Schiaparelli’s dresses with Salvador Dalí’s lobsters in 1935 to today’s Prada store along a deserted highway in Marfa, Texas. Click through the slideshow to see those and more, including Edward Scissorhands, Nick Cave, and Jeff Koons.