LONDON - Last night, fashion met art at Sotheby’s London, where a lively discussion about British creativity in both disciplines was the warm-up to a glittering preview of the Modern & Post-War British Art auction. It was standing-room only for the talk, which brought Justine Picardie, editor of Harper’s Bazaar, together with Sotheby’s Frances Christie. Together, they explored the surprising points of intersection between 20th-century British artists and the designers behind some astonishing new garments from Burberry’s – all made in Britain, like the paintings, drawings and sculptures on view. Vignettes around the room brought Burberry frocks on mannequins together with art work Christie had selected from the sale to complement them; it was all pulled together by giant blow-ups of the brilliantly creative editorial photography featuring Burberry that Picardie has commissioned for her magazine. The following is an exclusive extract from last night’s conversation.


Frances Christie: Why did you choose Alexa Chung as the cover for the Best of British issue back in July?

Justine Picardie: This is one of my favourite ever cover shoots and Alexa sums up a certain kind of British chic. Obviously though if you’re going to do a best of British issue, it’s got to be Burberry on the cover, so in a sense it was almost the dress that came first. I remember the first time I met Christopher Bailey a decade ago. We went up to Yorkshire, where he is from and where Burberry’s roots are. I thought we would talk about fashion, but we ended up discussing landscape and art as well. I believe passionately in what Harper’s Bazaar stands for – that overlap between art and fashion and literature, so this was a designer after my own heart.

FC: Do you see the influence of British artists on the work of Bailey and Burberry?

JP: The first thing I thought of as I walked around the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy was how Christopher Bailey would love it. It is so inspiring, the colours and also that sense of playfulness and inventiveness. The British are so self-deprecating, it always rains and its grey, but it was exciting to see Hockney return to Yorkshire after the lightness and air of California and to paint so brightly.

Burberry's Autumn/Winter Collection
Burberry's Autumn/Winter Collection.
Burberry's Autumn/Winter Collection.
Burberry's Autumn/Winter Collection.
Cover of Harper's Bazaar's July Issue.

FC: You mention the intersection of fashion and art – how do the two connect?

JP: Art and fashion are not the same thing, but they do inhabit the same landscape. Whether it’s in Central St. Martins or the Royal College of Art, young fashion designers train alongside young artists. There’s a shared space for art and fashion, but also the shared landscape of a Hockney painting, the landscape of this country.

I have this theory that quite a lot of the YBAs might have been good fashion designers, and designers, artists. Alexander McQueen you can imagine perhaps being a happier person as an artist. Equally I can envisage Damien Hirst running a global fashion brand: “this season it’s all about the polka dot, or the spin.”

FC: Your current issue has an amazing shoot of the Autumn/Winter collections – it celebrates art, fashion and handicraft in such a riot of colour, particularly the image with the butterflies. What’s the story behind it?

JP: Eric Magidan Heck created it. He’s an artist primarily, working in the photographic medium, and I love his work. I knew he would shoot wonderful fashion. This particular butterfly picture has so much joy in it.