I n celebration of art and fashion, Sotheby's Hong Kong presents Contemporary Curated: Hong Kong in partnership with NET-A-PORTER, the world's top luxury e-tailer. The co-curated exhibition showcases this shared vision and extraordinary creativity at the prestigious lifestyle hub in Pacific Place from 25 June–7 July. Having collaborated with Sotheby’s on luxury-themed curations in New York and London last year, most recently with a holiday inspired selection, NET-A-PORTER turns its eye to the world of contemporary art for the first time.
The way we shop for luxury items and lifestyle products exists in a world shaped by NET-A-PORTER. The e-commerce platform pioneered high-fashion retail when it launched in 2000, quicky gaining international recognition. Founder Natalie Massenet sought to create an online point-of-sale retailer that took the form of a fashion magazine, granting readers the ability to simply click and purchase designer pieces featured in an editorial. Similarly, this edition of Contemporary Curated: Hong Kong, a partnership that marks Sotheby's Asia's first with the fashion company, invites audiences to experience luxury fashion not only as a commodity but as artistic inspiration.
Access to inspiration: bringing together the art gallery and would-be collector, the fashion runway and future trendsetter.
United in its vision, the exhibition aims to close the imagined distances between art gallery and would-be collector, fashion runway and future trendsetter, by reflecting on the parallels between the technological and physical worlds of art and fashion. The showcase presents an edit of standout pieces from NET-A-PORTER and MR PORTER’s global offerings across ready-to-wear, accessories and their fast-expanding home category, alongside Sotheby’s auctions of fine paintings, drawings and installations by a wide range of sought-after contemporary artists from across the globe, including American painter Shara Hughes and Japanese artist Tetsuya Ishida. Together the fine art and fashion reflect the congruence of fluidity, colour and structure as a guiding principle of experiencing the world.
When Art Meets Fashion | Contemporary Curated: Hong Kong
The lineup is led by Tetsuya Ishida's The Men On A Belt Conveyer, a fresh-to-auction work that marks a rare appearance on the market, as only 217 paintings were ever created in the artist’s brief decade-long career. The Men On A Belt Conveyer is a striking example of the artist's Kafkaesque depictions, which explore the challenges posed by technological advancement, social anonymity and economic recession throughout the last three decades of 20th-century Japan. The narrative offers a glimpse into the darker shades of Japan's 'Lost Decade', a historical period the curatorial team identified with the Balmain mini dress, whereby the sharp-shouldered silhouette and a wrap-effect bodice bring to mind the mono-coloured body-hugging dresses that trended during the late 80s.
Shara Hughes's Rock Collection offers an imaginary interior filled with selections of symbolic objects. Set within bordering claustrophobic confines, they are infused with emotional and dreamlike significance. The work was featured in the artist's first solo exhibition at the New York gallery Rivington Arms in 2007. An archetype from Hughes's interior painting series, the painting creates a domestic alternative to the real world home the artist experienced as being 'broken' by her parents' divorce. The inclusion of a seaside view suggesting the paradise beyond creates a surreal twist to the composition's spatial dynamic, a captivating visual that finds its dreamlike parallel in Australian designer Christopher Esber's dramatic shirt and skirt hybrid, intricately held by bead-embellished straps.
2015.07 and 2015.10 display the extraordinary technical dexterity and conceptual rigour that defines Liang Yuanwei's oeuvre. The enrapturing composition of exquisite petals and leaves recalls patterns in household fabrics and textiles, merging high art with design, an idea that fascinates the artist. The gradation of the paintings mimics the reflective qualities of satin, an effect achieved by arduously applying pigments layer by layer, reminiscent of fresco painting technique. Similarities can be drawn between the scrumptiously textured painterly surface of Liang's work with an ivory bouclé-tweed mini dress by Rebecca Vallance that subtly glitters under light.
Another coveted artist, Ayako Rokkaku employs a unique technique of applying paint onto the canvas with her fingers, reflecting the improvisational and uninhibited style of children’s drawings. That sense of vibrant, innocent freedom is expressed in Oscar de la Renta's mini dress, a joyous lilac piece whose fabric is gathered in rich cascades to create a voluminous, trapeze silhouette.
The summery, intricate florals in Suzie Kondi's batik-inspired print dress evoke Eddie Martinez’s abstracted still life Untitled (2018). The rich application of colour in the painting echoes the warm hues and breezy, bohemian style of the fashion pairing. Together with the floral-printed Manolo Blahnik mules, which draw inspiration from Cristóbal Balenciaga's work in the 40s and 50s, and Assouline's book on the Greek Islands, they inspire the carefree warm-weather months in the Mediterranean.
With a meteoric upward trajectory in recent years, KAWS successfully traverses the realms of high art and mass culture through his appropriation of popular cartoon figures into characters that are unique to his own universe. Many of the artist’s works reference the most iconic characters of Walt Disney, resulting in hybrid figures extending the art historical lineage. NET-A-PORTER sees elements of KAWS’s distinctive lexicon in Benchellal's dress, which might have stepped out from a fairy tale animation into the real world, thanks to its cloud-like quality and the way the bow's tips are sculpted to appear frozen in mid-air. Finished with Olympia Le-Tan's limited-edition Beauty and the Beast clutch, a book-shaped design with a hand-embroidered fantasy scene in tonal-pink and blue, it presents a dichotomy of form and function that echoes KAWS’s own liminal position between pop culture star and art market master.
Best known for his futuristic figures rendered in eerie yet alluring monochrome and greyscale, Tomoo Gokita works with pristine technical precision across diverse painterly methods. His staggered lines, sharp gradients, and bold smears, erasures and gouges. The title ‘The Birth of a Rookie Manager’ is seen in a series of merchandise designed for Tacomafuji Records. The fashions paired with the painting echo Gokita’s signature style in the metallic accents of Balmain's button-embellished tank, and legging featuring Norma Kamali's dramatically flared hems emphasized by splits
Hungarian-born Szabolcs Bozó finds inspiration for his works in characters that might easily come from illustrated children's books. But rather than looking to familiar Western icons of animation, Szabi, as he is best known, finds inspiration in Hungary’s rich history of animation, long drawn from the country’s folklore and mythology. That evolution, from the early days of morality tales and grotesque to Communist nationalisation and later heyday of iconography, represents an ever-present cultural legacy that informs his characters. The red colour of the painting echoes the red accents of from the heels of Loewe's leather mules.
On her 2016 work Hawaii Smoke, American artist Katherine Bernhardt paints energetic and expressive works that draw on pop culture objects, a practice she likens to modern day hieroglyphs. “That was the goal: nothingness,” she has said. “And what were the brightest, craziest color combinations I could come up with, that would clash?” Hawaii Smoke features the neon hues and vibrant tones favoured by Bernhardt, which pairs with the signature playfulness of French fashion label Jacquemus, with their bold pink twill.
Ulala Imai’s Fruits exemplifies the artist’s oeuvre which takes inspiration from home life and popular culture. Children’s toys, food from the kitchen table, and everyday household items become the protagonists of her work. The spirit of the artist complements the ‘vintage’ shape of Rebecca Vallance's 'Puglia' mini dress, which features bows, vibrant floral print, a sweetheart neckline and a swishy hem.
With such a diverse and delightful selection of artworks and fashion now on display, we invite you to discover not only the artists and designers expertly paired throughout the exhibition, but also in the playful dialogue between art and fashion, find your own original and unexpected combinations — you never know what magic awaits until you try.
Photographer: Egill Bjarki (IG: egill_bjarki)
Makeup: Cori Wong (IG: dearcori)
Model: Polina Pakhomova (IG: polliandr)