What do the Fall 2017 menswear collection of Comme des Garçons and Chicago have in common? Quite a bit, actually, thanks to artist Candida Alvarez, whose color-pop print was featured in the collection. Alvarez is a tenured painting and drawing professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is also a renowned abstract artist. Her work has been shown in galleries around the world, including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Addison Gallery of American Art and more. Below, we chat with Alvarez about her collaboration with CDG and Rei Kawakubo and what’s the importance of collaborative work between artists and fashion designers.
FashionFiles: How did the collaboration with Comme des Garçons come about? Walk us through the process.
Candida Alvarez: My work was discovered online and on Instagram. In early November, I was contacted by someone who partners with Comme des Garçons on ad campaigns and special projects to let me know that Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, and Adrian Joffe, president, were interested in my work and wanted to speak to me about a potential project.
Comme des Garçons was interested in using some of my work in their SHIRT collection and the Homme Plus Collection. Over several email exchanges and dropbox files, the collaboration grew as I curated images of my work, which were more in the direction of what Comme des Garçons called “new camouflage.” They ended up choosing a total of six works for the partnership. It all happened very quickly!
Why did you agree to the collaboration?
After researching the company I realized Comme des Garçons had a history of working with artists. I have always admired the work that Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, has created. She is a true visionary. I was excited that my work sparked interest. I was excited and honored to be selected. It was totally unexpected. Almost magical.
Did you create a brand new print for them, or did CDG reuse some of your old paintings?
I did not create any prints for this collection. Rei Kawakubo loved the work she saw online and wanted to license their use for the printing onto the textiles that were going to be used for the SHIRT collection and the Homme Plus Collection. It was exciting and surprising to see my paintings and drawings turned into textiles.
What is the meaning behind the print?
Rei’s inspiration in working with me was an idea around “new camouflage.”
What is the significance of the collaborative work between fashion designers and artists?
Collaborations can be exciting or they can fail miserably. I worked with Rei Kawakubo because she is brilliant at what she does. I could trust her to respect my work and the exchange because she has integrity as an artist. She is private and works quietly. In that sense, we are a lot alike. I was not looking for the collaboration. I had to trust the process. I had no idea what the final outcome was going to be.
Would you do it again, and if so, who would you like to work with in the fashion world?
I would definitely work with Rei Kawakubo again.
Featured image via Vogue Runway