The Love of Art: Richard Prince & Louis Vuitton S/S 2008
To add some structure to my weekly posts I am introducing a new XOX category named The Love of Art. Bottling the ‘fashion and art’ formula has now become the standard in the fashion industry due to the gravitas that credible artists give to fashion houses and the equally powerful exposure and financial reward that artists gain through the backing of the fashion power houses. However, that’s not to say that these collaborations are in any way a negative thing!! Oh no!! This category will look at some of the most wonderful collaborations, both past and present, between fashion designer and contemporary artist. These collaborations have produced some of the most inspirational, memorable and above all artistically credible fashion garments that the world has ever seen.
To start the ball rolling I have gone back in time , highlighting the ever so naughty (as always), and chillingley haunting Louis Vuitton S/S 2008 Catwalk collection. Marc Jacobs (who is always looking to push the creativity of LV each season) collaborated with the controversial American Painter, Richard Prince. Sexy nurses paraded down the catwalk in see-through plastic coats—Stephanie Seymour, Eva Herzigova, Nadja Auermann, and Naomi Campbell among them. That hilariously kinky parade was inspired by Prince’s Nurse paintings.
Prince’s paintings of white-uniformed nurses were based on the covers of pulp-fiction paperbacks from the ’50s and ’60s. An ardent bibliophile, Prince has amassed an impressive collection of naughty-nurse literature, including such classic titles as Surfing Nurse, Man-Crazy Nurse, Registered Nurse, Park Avenue Nurse, Washington Nurse, Tender Nurse, and Nympho Nurse. To make the paintings he transferred the book covers onto canvas, often manipulating them in the process—changing the colors or format or matching a nurse from one cover with the title from another. He then slathered the canvases with layers of drippy paint in lurid, sunset hues like magenta, wine red, and deep purple. With their faces obscured by white surgical masks that both show and obscure their red-lipsticked mouths below. Like displaced lingerie—Prince’s nurses are ciphers of femininity: accessible yet forbidden, wholesome yet on intimate terms with strangers’ bodily fluids.
There’s certainly nothing new about the fetishization of nurses. However were his paintings ironic appropriations meant to deconstruct a regressive stereotype? I imagine this is what appealed to the creative mind of Marc Jacobs. The opportunity to bring Prince’s concept to life while taking the nurses silhouette and elevating it in to the world of high fashion. The black lace LV masks, tailored coats and nipped in waists carry all the signatures of the LV House’. However the dark, seductive undertone of these ‘nurses of the night’ was exceptionally thought-provoking to view and still brings chills to my spine.