Kitson closed its doors forever in 2016, and YSL (whose creative director Hedi Slimane, maintains his design studio in LA instead of at the brand’s Paris headquarters) opened a Saint-Laurent beauty pop-up in downtown LA‘s Ace Hotel in January, 2017. And so, LA is quickly gaining traction as a fashion-forward city known less for Ed Hardy and more as a hub of artists and designers taking risks to curate style. With events like Art Los Angeles Contemporary, international art collectors are bringing attention (and that high-end art world money) to an emerging fashion scene that has just as much grit as it does glamour.
“Los Angeles is knocking hard on the door of the elite club of art-world cities,” Lauren Schuker Blum writes in the Wall Street Journal, and credits Art Los Angeles Contemporary for bringing collectors from all over the world to see work from local LA artists. Work from Petra Cotright, Petra Collins, Michael Zavros, and the pioneering homoerotic drawings from Tom of Finland (from the prestigious David Kordansky gallery), along with Puppies Puppies, makes up some of the fair’s heavy hitters.
Because art and fashion have always inhabited similar landscapes, it’s intuitive that this fair serve as a “platform for all these conversations about taking risks in aesthetics to converge,” explains a representative for Art Los Angeles Contemporary.
Pedro Veléz tells Arnet that Art Los Angeles Contemporary is “ultra-cool, with tremendously spacious booths and hallways that looked dramatic against the pitch-black domed ceiling of the hangar.”
“I think a place like New York is kind of hard to penetrate. In LA, the vibe is far more relaxed. There’s such a sense of space, of air, of dry heat,” says Vasili Kaliman, an Australian art advisor with clients all around the world. When people are less guarded, Kaliman – who made Art Contemporary Los Angeles a destination event – suggests, you can have a more “fluid dialogue about art and fashion.” This makes for an easy, accessible approach to style. “The high-end fashion vibe is still there,” Kaliman says. “It’s just turned down a notch.”
Hollywood is still vital to LA’s economy – this is after all, an industry town, and entertainment and music aren’t going anywhere – but the city is evolving beyond its entertainment roots. Art and fashion is leading the way for booming tech, design, and creative services that accompany any city full of influencers who innovate style.
The fair’s attendees, as well as the art showcased, parlay a new gritty LA style, inspired by sun and plants, the vastness of landscape, and concept-inspired style.
Attendees to Art Los Angeles Contemporary were greeted by Puppies Puppies, (the LA-based performance artist who has shown at the 2016 Berlin Biennial, 2016 Bienal de Nicaragua and Halle für Kunst in Lüneburg, Germany, and the forthcoming 2017 Whitney Biennial). Dressed like a moppet, Puppies Puppies worked the red carpet to set the mood. “He plays around with jarring uses of pop culture to explore readymade notions to make people feel uncomfortable,” said a representative for the fair.
The young, fun feel of Art Los Angeles Contemporary with a growing and diverse collector base makes the fair an ideal event for LA to showcase its new, experimental high-end style. As art and fashion intersect, LA might soon become a fashion epicenter on par with New York, Paris, London, and Milan.