trends & subculturesMonday, January 9, 2017

Fashion from the Frieze Art Fair


Fashion at the Frieze Art Fair in London is an intrinsic element to the exhibitions, from industry high-rollers sponsoring events to attendees creating the latest street trends. Organised by Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp (co-founders of the Frieze magazine), the fair is now part of a global franchise – but London is the original, and includes Frieze Masters (sponsored by Gucci), an alternative fair for dealers specialising in everything from ancient art to modern objets. Considered to be the art world’s version of LFW, it is just as well known for its fairgoers' style as for the art on display. Frieze Art Fair style is eclectic: attendees layer luxury labels with high-street finds to create stand-out looks at each event. 

Where fashion meets art

To say fashion meets art at the Frieze Art Fair would be an understatement. Each year, labels clamour to be involved in the event, and even wait to launch products or collaborations until Frieze week. In 2015, Italian label Etro collaborated with artist Zheng Guogo to create a capsule collection of silk scarves, Vertebra Prominens (an acupuncture point, not a medical condition). Launched in their flagship Old Bond Street store mid-Frieze week, the scarves embodied the collision of art and fashion the fair promotes. 

Another fashion highlight at the 2015 art fair was the Avant-Craft project launched by menswear brand Pal Zileri. Having timed the inauguration of their new store to coincide with the fair, they launched this new enterprise to champion fledgling artists who operate across the divides between cultural fields. First in the series were Amba Sayal-Bennett and Matteo Callegari, whose work formed an exhibition in the new store. 

Fashionable sponsorships


2013 saw Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen host a private dinner to celebrate the opening of the fair where models including Edie Campbell brushed shoulders with dealers and artists like Tracey Emin. McQueen sponsored that year's event, along with Dover Street Market and Paul Smith, creating a homegrown celebration of British street style at Frieze Art Fair. The relationship between Alexander McQueen and art is a long and happy one: the brand often displays works by emerging artists in their flagship store.

If only to certify the relationship between art and fashion, Vivienne Westwood hosted a talk at Frieze in 2015 describing the importance of the former in her designs. From modern art to children’s illustrations, the activist and designer draws heavily on other creatives for her inspiration. Westwood also used her keynote speech to draw attention to the price of art versus the price of the planet. 

October layers: colourful coats and knitted irony


London in October calls for outerwear, and attendees of the fair opt for a strong utilitarian vibe with an arts-and-crafts twist. Female fairgoers often choose sleek, tailored coats by Max Mara and Chanel, or turn to vintage to give their Frieze Art Fair style a personal touch. From outsized overcoats from the late 70s, to cropped 80s pieces, the Frieze crowd offers a masterclass in retro styling. Ironic slogan sweaters, cardigans-come-capes and classic thickly woven jumpers are another few favourites of attendees. Look to labels like Proenza Schouler and MSGM for knitwear with a Frieze aesthetic.

Men’s cool weather fashion at Frieze barely differs: strong, sharp tailoring mixes with vintage elements to create a serious yet dynamic aesthetic. Many turn to labels like Maison Margiela for jackets, although brand-of-the-moment Vetements had coats thrown over a couple of tastemakers' shoulders. Men's knitwear at Frieze takes a traditional tone. Many choose simple roll-necks in neutral tones to offset the crisp lines of their outerwear. Think Burberry London and Ami Alexandre Mattiussi for classic cabling and fine-ribbed jumpers.

Frieze footwear: folksy flats and staple trainers

Gone are the days of heels as a requirement for polished looks. For the hardcore fairgoer with a long list of galleries to view, a pair of elegant mules or loafers is most popular – and practical. Marni is a label that has long been associated with the art world. The label's use of subversive styling and artistic prints makes it an easy choice for a Frieze Art Fair attendee. Colourful embellishment and flatform soles were order of the day at the 2015 fair, with many opting for Marni shoes to finish their looks. 

Over the last few events, there has been a strong flavour of athleisure wear running through the street style at the Frieze Art Fair. With brands like Isabel Marant and Givenchy with a high-fashion twist, it’s an inevitable choice for the long days of gallery hopping. A suit worn with contrasting, colourful sneakers has been a popular look for many male attendees: opt for thick soles with a graphic pattern to wear with a sharp yet bright three-piece. 

Street style at the Frieze Art Fair is unrivalled. The event often cited as birthing new trends offers everything from Dada-ist aesthetics to cutting-edge minimalism. From dealers and exhibitors to famed taste-makers and bloggers, the fair is seen as a fashion highlight in every calendar. Regular attendee and designer Raf Simons pointed out that “You don’t see people dressing like this at Art Basel” – giving life to the idea that fashion at Frieze Art Fair is as important as the art itself. 

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