The recent trend of artist-fashion label collaboration continues with Japanese contemporary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto and French luxury fashion brand Hermès.

The collaboration, entitled “Colours of Shadow” (“Couleurs de l’ombre“), was launched in June 2012 and consists of “twenty of the artist’s abstract colour studies [which] have been translated into silk scarves in signed, limited editions of seven each”.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, ‘Colour of Shadow’, 2012, 55 inches x 55 inches, Polaroid film on silk. Photo Courtesy:Hermès Editeur

Hiroshi Sugimoto, ‘Colours of Shadow’, 2012, 55 inches x 55 inches, Polaroid film on silk. Courtesy Hermès Editeur.

More images of the “Colours of shadow” can be viewed by clicking here.

Artist-fashion collaboration trend

“Colours of shadow” follows in the footsteps of earlier collaborations between fashion brands and Asian artists. In 2002, Takashi Murakami began collaborating with Louis Vuitton on a series of handbag and purse designs and, in 2010, Louis Vuitton worked with Yayoi Kusama to release the collection entitled ‘Infinity Kusama’, which included handbags, footwear, watches, jewellery and apparel items. In the same year, Chinese contemporary artist Xue Song worked with Salvatore Ferragamo to launch a range of handbags, wallets and casual wear named ‘Xue Song for Ferragamo’. The collection celebrated the Year of Tiger, and was sold exclusively in China.

Study of light

For Sugimoto’s original project, also entitled Colours of shadow, the artist “designed the interior of a hilltop, Tokyo apartment specifically to facilitate his observation of the varying effects created by shadows when a surface receives light“. From the completion of the observing apparatus to the process of observation, the entire process took ten years, as Sugimoto explains,

Ten years of time was needed for me to complete the artwork titled Colours of Shadow. While the entire project constituted a kind of observational apparatus, the observations only began once the apparatus was completed. And were I to include my observational findings in the work, then it would have been an endless project – especially since observations could very well continue after I am gone.

Sugimoto is quick to point out that his work is only a recent contribution to a study that began with Sir Isaac Newton 350 years ago and has since been added to by scientists and artists alike. But while the crystal prism, a device first employed by Newton, is still present in Sugimoto’s study, it is the artist’s Polaroid camera that becomes the key piece of machinery.

Film to fashion

The New York Times calls the collection “a moving tribute to the lowly Polaroid, which faces imminent extinction” and Sugimoto even bought up “the last existing stocks of expired Polaroid film from the final ebb of production” to complete the work. When Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the artistic director of Hermès Editeur, saw the stunning Polaroid images, he was amazed and invited Sugimoto to turn this decade long project into the third edition of Hermès Editeur.

It is reportedly difficult to imbue textile products with subtle variations of colour. Pierre-Alexis Dumas says, on the website of Hermès Editeur,

The projects artists bring us confront our craftsmen with real challenges, at first glance insurmountable but overcoming them enables us to extend the limits of our savoir-faire.

Having spent two years advancing its own printing technology, Hermès finally transferred the brilliant images onto silk scarves, creating a form of wearable art.

“Colours of Shadow” on show

“Colours of Shadow” was exhibited at Art Basel Contemporary Art Fair in June 2012 and will be exhibited at La Verrière from 10 to 29 September 2012 in Brussels and at Le Forum from 14 November to 30 December 2012 in Tokyo. For the collection, seven of each of the twenty Polaroids have been selected to be printed for a total of 140 scarves and are available for sale at Hermès Editeur for USD10,000 each.


Related Topics: Japanese artists, photography, art and branding

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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