Versace 1997-98 (The V&A)
Versace was a man of inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm. He delighted in all forms of creativity and loved museums, including the V&A. Versace had a deep feeling for his heritage and the role of dress, commenting, ‘I come from a land with a rich history . . . its roots are old, ancient roots, that knew the aristocracy of sculptural draperies.’ Versace’s encyclopaedic knowledge and respect for the past liberated him. He achieved an equilibrium between the historical and the modern which, though audacious, was never disrespectful.
Versace was an avid collector of 20th-century art, from Picasso to Jasper Johns. He paid tribute to the graphic power of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and appropriated Andy Warhol’s celebrity portraits for his printed dress fabrics. In a playful twist, he adorned a gown with the covers of Vogue magazine demonstrating that his clothing, while it may not have been fine art, could certainly be ‘artful’.
Source – http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/g/gianni-versace/
Giorgio Armani 2000-1 (The RA 2003-4)
‘The RA is hardly the first fine art museum to conceive of couture as living sculpture. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has staged a number of exhibitions devoted to contemporary clothing and fashion, notably its 1984 retrospective of couturier extraordinaire Yves Saint Laurent. That show also cause the kind of furore that has surrounded the Armani exhibitions during its appearance in New York and London – the supposed ideological battle of high art versus popular culture. But while many say that fashion is too commercial to be treated as art – and of course, it is a huge industry – there has always been crossover between the two world. Think of Schiparelli and the surrealists or the Op art of Bridget Riley and fashion of the psychedelic 0’s to name just a couple of examples … it’s invigorating and, to my mind, essential, for museums to expose visitors to fresh visual experience and ideas. A wider remit afford the public what Joseph Beuys called an expanded concept of art. And I’m certain that buys, whom I knew well and who was very fashion conscious in his own way, would not have disapproved of Saint Laurent at the Met or Armani at the Royal Academy. I only wish that artists and curators alike would occasionally make more use of such mind-streching concepts.’