Fashion has an exceptional way of digging into the past, reimagining style and history with newfound twists. Today, Lanvin is doing just that with its Fall/Winter 2018 presentation at Place Vendôme last month—a collaboration with artist Krista Kim. Inspired by the house’s archives, coupled with the innovative technology of today, Olivier Lapidus, Lanvin’s creative director, said he asked, “What would Jeanne Lanvin have done?”
“I’m sure Mrs. Lanvin, just as she had done in the 1920s, would have associated herself with the most contemporary, the most up-to-date, and the most advanced things,” he continued. “She followed the work of Jean Dunand, Léon Bakst, and Paul Iribe closely, so I said to myself that she would have liked Krista Kim a lot.”
Whitewall spoke with Lapidus and Kim about their collaboration, the modern, innovative, and functional new collection, and the continuously creative spirit of Lanvin.
WHITEWALL: Olivier, Lanvin’s new collection is a reflection of some of your personal interests in innovation. Can you tell us a bit about what you wanted to this collection to say?
OLIVIER LAPIDUS: Each collection is an intimate combination of my desire to develop Lanvin’s DNA and the contemporary interpretation of the brand’s unique nature. Jeanne Lanvin was in step with the innovations of the beginning of the last century, she was also in step with artists such as Bakst or Iribe. For the pre-collection, I wanted to twist these inspirations into up-dated language, with prints, jacquards, and clothing shapes that represent a timeless “Lanvin spirit.”
For the collection itself, I asked myself the same question between art and Lanvin. Today, for example, who would be the artist or artists who would be close to Lanvin? At an exhibition in New York, I was struck by Krista Kim. She represents, through the movement that she has initiated, Techism, the association between the technologies of her time (I.T., images, design technologies, etc.), which Jeanne would surely have loved, and contemporary art. So I wanted to associate this artist with a range of colors and prints, in the “Lanvin spirit” that I want to develop for the brand.
WW: Why was Krista an artist you wanted to work with?
OL: Krista combines two qualities that are essential for Lanvin: the power of her artwork, and the “ultra-contemporary” aspect of the techniques she uses.
WW: You personally hold a handful of patents, including fabric made with fiber optics. Where did your interest in technology come from?
OL: Together with my friend Cédric Brochier, I started the very first jacquard weaves with fiber optics, to be used in haute couture. I had the intuition for this technique, and I was the initiator, but it was Cédric who was the technological genius of its creation and today he develops it in his company Brochier Technologies.
Design sometimes results in lucky surprises, as happy as they are unexpected, such as the use of these textiles, created for a luminous wedding dress, to treat jaundice in newborns in hospital, or even in the aerospace industry…
I see artisans as the essential memory of excellence and some of their knowledge can be used, in a transversal manner, to contribute to the development of technologies. In a word, I believe that artisans can work alongside researchers and a quite considerable part of the past can be useful for the future.
The carbon fiber used for the building of “techno” objects was originally woven on old jacquard looms (dating back to 1860), those of the “Canut revolts.” Artisans and researchers were brought together around a project spanning past and future: this is “industrial transversality”—or how old jobs can become new jobs.
WW: The collection also caters to a tech-friendly lifestyle, with jackets featuring iPad compartments and bag straps with removable phone pouches. Did function largely inform design?
OL: Women today live with nomadic, connected objects which are part of their “lifestyle”, a word used by Jeanne Lanvin when she designed, around her fashion, a world of decorative objects.
Handbags have to be re-designed to offer these everyday functionalities. Everything that is part of the lives of today’s women must be taken into account in both clothing and accessories—it’s an on-going evolution.
WW: Are there any other types of technology, or movements, that are particularly inspiring to the brand right now?
OL: As initiated by Jeanne Lanvin in the roaring twenties, fashion is linked to modernity, including the modernity of techniques or even technologies. But everything is done to ensure that this fashion remains profoundly human, practical and sometimes functional, as well as pure, well made, balanced and, to use a word that now seems obsolete but which I believe applies to Lanvin, elegant. So maybe we should be speaking of a “new elegance” for this Lanvin DNA.
WW: Krista, you are the founder of a movement called “Techism.” Tell us a bit about that.
KRISTA KIM: Our digital revolution is like no other revolution in history because of its scale and speed of disruption. The adaption of new technology and social media platforms has created sweeping changes in our global culture, and there has never been a more crucial time for artists and philosophers to adapt, to create and to influence culture.
Algorithms are controlling our interactions on social media platforms, and a vast culture of sharing and liking has created a narcissistic and egocentric society that is lacking in humanity and connection. It is our very “connectedness” on social media platforms that is diminishing real human connection.
Artists express humanity in their work. The contribution of art using digital technology will create a more connected and humane culture, which will affect how our society chooses to use and innovate digital technology for the future. It is the demonstration of possibilities and expression of free thought, using digital technology as a tool for humanity, that will create a more balanced culture.
Techism is a movement that recognizes technological innovation as an artistic medium, and encourages artists to promote digital humanism in the formation of culture. Collaboration, co-creation and dialogue with engineers and technology specialists is key to this movement, because we are in a transition phase between the institutionalized “painting & sculpture” tradition of artistic expression, into digital.
Freedom of thought, individualism and equality in a future of digital disruption and technological advancement is important for the future of humanity. I recognize the unique challenges that society will face from social media platforms, algorithms and AI in this new and unchartered future and we choose to express connectedness, humanity and transcendence at the forefront of technological innovation through collaboration, dialogue and freedom of expression.
Our future is unknown, but we are aware that hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in Artificial Intelligence, deep learning, brain computer interfaces and the opening of the space frontier. The importance of Techism, and its influence on humanity is crucial, now.
It is imperative that companies who are ushering in this new civilization such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung, and Neuralink, recognize the importance of creative human expression, and support the Techism movement for the preservation of a free-thinking society, and cognitive transcendence of highly organized and complex digital constructs that will connect human consciousness on a level that will forever transform our world and human existence. Empathy, humanity and rational free-thought must thrive in our future.
The creation of a free, humane, and great digital civilization is our core belief and vision.
WW: How are you specifically merging art and technology?
KK: I am using software as a tool for expressionism. I used to paint, and now I have transfered that same artistic sensibility into digital. I am self-taught. It took me three years to master my current technique to create the current artwork that you see today. I also am pushing the boundaries of digital production of fine art. The technology that I use to produce my work is only two years old, and I was the first and the only artist to engage this technology to create fine art using the vibrancy of color “pop” and visceral expression. The pigment applications, the Pleximuseum material, the technology, my style of creating artwork, and the visual language—this is all breakthrough and unique. My artwork is an expression of what is creatively possible in digital algorithm painting in our current time.
Technology has always inferenced art. Even using paints that were packaged in squeezable containers was at one point, a major innovation. I am simply expanding my influence of materials and technology to embrace the technology of today in order to shape the evolution the history of art.
WW: Tell us a bit about your digital images of LED lights that the new Lanvin collection’s color palette is based off.
KK: The five artworks that Olivier Lapidus selected for Lanvin were from my portfolio. I created one new artwork No. 33 v.65 for the Lavin FW18 fashion show, but the other four pieces were selected from my inventory dating between 2016 and 2017. Lanvin selected the pieces based on the traditional color palette of the house of Lanvin, namely gold, red, beige, grey, black, and blue. I was not involved in the selection process, so their choices of the artworks were based on the seasonal colors and traditional color palette of Lanvin.
WW: You’ve said that Techism asks, “What does it mean to be human in the digital age, and where is the beauty in it?” So, what does it mean? Where is the beauty?
KK: The role of the artist is to always strive to answer this question in their work. Every piece of art should strive to interpret beauty, and the meaning of beauty in the world. It is an evasive answer, and one that may never be answered, but I shall always strive to answer it, or perhaps, reveal of glimmer of truth in the answer.
WW: What type of art do you aspire to create?
KK: I want my art to be a space for meditativeness and healing for the viewer. I am passionate about creating public art installations with this purpose in mind. My light and sound installation called “8×8” has a profoundly positive effect on the viewer—with the combination of my artwork moving in slow animation and transitioning into a variety of colors and compositions, in combination with deep sound healing frequency music that was composed by Tenille Bentley. People feel a sense of peace, healing, well-being and meditativeness when they view this installation. Children and their parents would spend extended periods entranced in it. Yoga experts would come and practice while immersed in the light and the sound. Some viewers were moved to tears by the experience.
Viewers feel rejuvenation. This kind of interaction is what I truly am passionate about.