Fashion and art: Dior, Guggenheim and NYC

Yolanda Regodón. Associate Director Communication. IE Business School

11 December 2014

The world of luxury and top designers move in constant search of both tangible and intangible experiences that are linked to time, craftsmanship and art.

Designers also create dreams, experiences, creativity, beauty and they transmit art and culture. Emotions like these and more were to be found a few weeks ago at the Guggenheim Museum on Nueva York’s Fifth Avenue, where pure esthetics and Maison Dior were the stars of the show at the Guggenheim International Gala (GIG). Three hundred guests from New York society attended the charity event thrown by Christian Dior to raise funds for the Guggenheim Foundation.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation has spent decades promoting modern and contemporary art through exhibitions, educational programs, research projects and a range of publications, all funded by its now famous and eagerly anticipated GIGs. New York’s Guggenheim Museum was founded in 1937 in the Upper East Side, and in 1959 it was transferred to its current location on the corner of 89th designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The building is a work of art in itself. Its spiral form is a fusion of triangles, ovals, arches, circles and squares, in line with the organic architecture concept that Frank Lloyd Wright uses in his designs.

Before the ball, the French firm stopped off at New York’s SoHo district to inaugurate its new boutique on Greene Street. The store was designed by architect Peter Marino, who has worked on many more luxury shops around the world, including Loewe, Armani, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. The Dior boutique in SoHo has mirrored ceilings and silver-plated columns, and is where collections designed by Raf Simons, Dior’s creative director, are made up.

The GIG is a key event on New York’s social calendar. The aim is to raise funds for the Museum’s foundation, the board of which was recently joined by Sidney Toledano, CEO of Dior. Thus, Dior has further built on its legacy with the world of art, something that Raf Simons already knows well, given that before he worked in the fashion sector he worked in the art world.

This year Dior and Moët Hennessy USA were once again sponsors of the two nights at the Guggenheim. The first day there was a pre-fiesta with music played by The XX, an indie pop trio from London that has been enjoying success after success since their debut in 2009. The following day there was a charity gala dinner which commemorated the work of artists Carrie Mae Weems, Heinz Mack, and Otto Piene –who died on July 17 of this year- and Günther Uecker, all founding members of ZERO, a German art movement which in post-war times tried to break away from the traditional limits of art by experimenting with light, air, movement and metal.

In fact, an enormous ‘White Baloon’ by artist Otto Piene, was hung from the ceiling of the architectonic temple designed by Frank Lloyd Wright which houses New York’s Guggenheim. The entrance tickets for the pre-fiesta, which included the performance by The XX, an open bar, and the opportunity to see part of the Zero exhibition, cost between 200 and 250 dollars, while a place in the gala dinner was a cool 75,000 dollars. The menu was grilled chicken, wild mushrooms and potatoes au gratin with black truffles, accompanied by liberal quantities of Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013.

There are deep connections between art and fashion. Dior is a brand that manages to be extraordinarily modern and classic at the same time, and cannot help but reinvent classic icons while bringing innovative creations to the market. Maison Dior, controlled by Bernard Arnault, president of the largest luxury group in the world, Louis Vuitton Moët Henessy (LVMH), is now captained by Belgian designer Raf Simons, who is in charge of the esthetic side of the business and leaves nobody indifferent.

Bernard Arnault is always seeking to renew his firms and improve bottom-line results and Dior is no exception. Five creators have launched designs for women in the firm’s more than sixty years of history. Dior died in 1957 and was replaced by his young assistant, Yves Saint Laurent. He was soon fired and replaced by Marc Bohan, who spent almost 30 years in the position. From 1989 Gianfranco Ferré was at the helm up until the arrival of John Galliano in 1996, and, after Galliano was forced to leave, Belgian designer Simons took up the baton. With Simons as creative director, Dior’s profit levels speak for themselves. In 2013 the brand increased its benefits by 30% compared to 2012. Sales of haute couture designs alone rose by 20% in the same year.

If we think about luxury, in what it means today, it is a search for tangible experiences and something that goes beyond immediate gratification, something related to time, craftsmanship or art in production. That is something Maison Dior knows a great deal about.
Published by The Luxonomist

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