Fashion and art’s longstanding love affair is a tale as old as time. A magnetic synergy, in 2008 the late Karl Lagerfeld told the New York Times “Art is art. Fashion is fashion. However, Andy Warhol proved that they can exist together.”
Over 12 years later, this sentiment could not ring truer.
Fashion has long leant on the art world to inspire and influence design and collections. Whether it’s a borrowed sculptural technique to create shape and form, an embedded social, cultural or historical reference for social commentary purpose, an artist-turned-muse for a shoot or runway show, or a creative collaboration for a collection’s sake – there’s no denying the influence the two have on one another.
One person who understands the synergy between art and fashion is Michael Mancuso, or Micky as he’s more commonly known as, Founder of Micky’s Art – a Melbourne based online gallery, showcasing a curated selection of established and emerging artists from around the world.
Having launched in 2014, Micky’s Art is the result of Mancuso’s own passion for the art world. Having observed a gap in the market between the artist and the consumer, whereby countless talented artists and their work flew under the radar, Mancuso founded Micky’s Art in an effort to bridge the gap and create a platform to connect artists with potential buyers.
“People can go missing in the art world if no one is showcasing them,” says Mancuso, “I’ve met artists that are so talented, but they don’t know how to log onto Instagram, and they might even be 26 years old, therefore unearthing this talent is paramount.”
Micky’s Art’s portfolio currently consists of 16 artists, including Dina Broadhurst, Steve Clarke, Maurice Golotta, Stanislas Piechaczec as well as international creative heavyweights, Banksy, Jeff Koons, Keith Haring and Yayoi Kusama.
One of the most popular examples of fashion’s longstanding love affair with art is the creative collaborations with contemporary artist Jeff Koons. Having previously worked with a variety of designers including Stella McCartney, H&M and Louis Vuitton, in April this year, the Jeff Koons x Louis Vuitton capsule collection dropped, featuring works by Van Gogh, Da Vinci and Fragonard wrapped around totes, bowling bags and purses.
And just like art, Mancuso says the clothes we wear tell a unique story of where we are and how we’re feeling at that given time.
“Sometimes I look back at my wardrobe and think how did I ever wear that, or I look around and think I can’t believe I’ve got that painting there, but it shows a different headspace and where you were at that time.”
Today, Mancuso turns to tailoring brands like Lardini and Christian Kimber for laissez-faire, nonchalant style in lieu of highly structured suiting. He’s undertaken this sartorial trajectory in the name of “Sprezzatura – the art of dressing well with little effort.”
Mancuso’s interest in the art world started young with his mum working as an art dealer and consultant at a prominent art gallery. After landing a job at a gallery himself, Mancuso was exposed to a range of high-profile artists.
“When I grew up, I was very heavily into street art like a lot of our friends and young people. And then I started working at an art gallery at about 16 or 17 and got to meet a lot of new and emerging artists.”
“I started researching artists that we’re going places/were really cool and one of them was Space Invader (Invader). I bought one of his pieces for $1,500, and three years later it was worth 40 thousand dollars. I decided then that this is what I want to do.”
Mancuso began connecting with various galleries and contacted some of Los Angeles’ biggest galleries, pitching them Micky’s Art and the opportunity to promote their work on his platform and reach new target markets.
His plan was clear: look for emerging artists wanting a long-term career in the art world. Mancuso’s strategy was to feature them alongside bigger, more established artists in an effort to draw attention to these emerging artists.
“It’s an investment,” says Mancuso, “What I look for within an artist is something who is not only really cool but someone who wants to be an artist for a long time.”
“The same goes for clothes. I have no problem spending money on clothes as I see them as an investment in myself. I would rather feel good and look good rather than cheap out.”
A sentiment, Mancuso believes, is even more prevalent amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. He says the current climate has undeniably affected consumer sentiment and the creative market and believes people will approach the fashion and art space with a new and more considered perspective.
“I think going through what we’ve been going through recently, there will be more of a focus on quality, where things are made and where things come from.”
“For me, it’s not just about the brand or a label,” says Mancuso, “I have an appreciation for aesthetics and the process behind it. If I’m buying something, it’s about the artist.”