Artist Joana Vasconcelos Created the Psychedelic Backdrop for Dior’s Paris Fashion Week Show. See the Dazzling Images Here

During last month’s Paris Fashion Week, Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri chicly reinterpreted the house’s 1950s codes. The scenography, however, tapped into another dimension entirely thanks to the creative vision of Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. Vasconcelos installed a hallucinatory, stalactite–like sculpture that served as the undeniably bombastic backdrop for the Fall 2023 collection.

Ornamental, globular, and behemoth, Valkyrie Miss Dior towered 23 feet high and about 78 feet long, permeating the temporary Jardin des Tuileries space. Was it an alien landscape or the interior of some otherworldly organism? Maybe some some pan-national arts-and-crafts beast? Interpretation all depended on the viewer. But one thing was for sure: Vasconcelos has hands-down stomped all other contenders for “set of the season.”

Joana Vasconcelos's immersive sculpture and fashion show set . Photo: Adrien Dirand.

Joana Vasconcelos’s immersive sculpture and fashion show set . Photo: Adrien Dirand.

The suspended piece was composed of steel cables, crochet, LED lights, fans, inflatables, and fabrics in 20 different Dior floral patterns. Vasconcelos is prone to super-size her work.

“I don’t do scale for scale’s sake,” the artist said, “ but to convey a message through a chosen object. My work is very much based in the decontextualization of everyday objects. Monumental scale is usually seen as male territory and there are some barriers to be broken.”


Joana Vasconcelos’s ornamental alien landscape for Dior. Photo: Adrien Dirand.

Valkyrie Miss Dior joins a pantheon of over 30 of the towering female warrior goddesses Vasconcelos has created for installations as far-flung as Macau to Bilbao (where she had a 2018 retrospective “I’m Your Mirror” at the Guggenheim). “They all have different themes, honoring women who made a difference in the world,” Vasconcelos explains, “just like the female figures from Nordic mythology would lift the brave warriors killed in the battlefield, bringing them to join the deities in Valhalla.” Valkyrie Miss Dior is an homage to the house founder’s sister, Catherine Dior, a florist and World War II French resistance fighter who was awarded the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur. Vasconcelos’s 2005 Venice Biennale entry The Bride, a baroque chandelier composed of 25,000 tampons, garnered her international attention.

Looks from the Fall 2023 collection stand out in-front of the installations dangling, tonsil-like ornamental globs. Courtesy of Dior.

Looks from the Fall 2023 collection stand out in-front of the installation’s dangling, tonsil-like ornamental globs. Courtesy of Dior.

The artist has found a true ally in Chiuri who has made explicit feminist overtures in all of her collections since becoming Dior’s first female creative director in 2018. A key tenet of her tenure has been to collaborate with female artists and allow them to realize their respective visions.

The Dior Valkyrie is just one highpoint for Vasconcelos this year. In April, she will have a solo show at Beijing’s Tang Contemporary Art followed by her Tree of Life installation in Paris’s Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes. Her gargantuan Wedding Cake will rise at Waddesdon Manor, England in June, and then her next solo show opens in October at Uffizi Galleries in Florence, Italy. She took a moment to speak with us about Dior and explain her vibe.

The artist Joana Vasconcelos. Photo: Arlindo Camacho.

The artist Joana Vasconcelos. Photo: Arlindo Camacho.

Your work combines disciplines that overlap with fashion (sewing, knitting, working with textiles). Do you follow fashion and does it inform your work?

Fashion is a very important part of my life. I actually started showing my work at Lisbon’s Manobras de Maio in 1994, a catwalk for young creators, with a very counter-current, avant-garde and interventionist spirit. At the time I produced a series of wearable sculptural pieces in Styrofoam called the Bunis. A kind of colorful, organic, bulbous headwear, they represented a crossover between jewelry—which I studied—and sculpture.

Nowadays, a lot of my work is connected to the world of textiles and therefore it’s only natural that some clear affinities with fashion come across. The textile element is a common thread here, and plays a very important role, alongside the handcrafts that are also associated with the couture houses. As a matter of a fact, I question the male definition of noble materials in art. To me, textiles are as noble as iron, stone or wood – maybe even more so.

The fabulous couches can't compete with the massive artwork. Photo: Adrien Dirand.

Besides the otherworldly artwork, the set also included fabulous custom seating. Photo: Adrien Dirand.

What really struck me about the Dior set was this dichotomy between handmade/ornamental and organic. I got the sense that this structure mimicked a life form. It was like a fashion show was happening within a body.

It’s interesting that you saw it that way. Many people asked if Valkyrie Miss Dior represented a plant, an animal or a part of the human anatomy, but they all saw it as a living organism. I have never really conceived it as a static installation, what really interested me from the very beginning was the interaction between the installation, the models and the audience, all coming together as a moving body, a sculptural choreography almost.

The grand Dior finale through the alien landscape. Photo: Adrien Dirand.

The grand Dior finale through the alien landscape. Photo: Adrien Dirand.

The fashion show added a facet to your art, this swirling performative fashion experience. Tell me about experiencing this firsthand?

This was not the first time I employed dance for an artwork. I did so last year with Valkyrie Martha at lille3000, presented with purposefully created choreography. This stems from my firm belief that art should be interactive, inviting audiences and/or other artists to join the process, touching it, feeling it and creating a dialogue with movement, music or other art expressions in a performative way.

The set heightened the collection because it also really contrasted it. Interstellar versus down-to-earth. What was it like working with Ms. Chiuri? Did your designs inform each other?

No, they were different processes altogether. Maria Grazia came to my studio in Lisbon last summer and we had a wonderful exchange of ideas. Maria Grazia is a major inspiration not only for her feminist stance but also for her valorization of artisanship, two causes which are also very close to my heart. So, when the invitation came, I showed her my Valkyries body of work and suggested that, first and foremost, we should pay tribute to a woman. Then I got carte blanche to create as I saw fit.

I was sent 20 fabrics from the collection and started to create the Valkyrie from there. They were all very floral and fluid, the colors ranging from red, blue, green, orange to yellow. I decided to choose a color, texture and different identity for each branch of the artwork. To enhance the colors of the fabrics, I added a little sparkle through sequins and embroidery.

Joana Vasconcelos, Coração Independente (2016). Photo: Luís Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos, Coração Independente (2016). Photo: Luís Vasconcelos

Crochet is a technique which is also very present in haute couture, accentuating the concept of the contemporary revisiting of the past, bringing back memories which are present in each of us and carrying them into the future. It was a dialogue with absolute freedom, a great way to collaborate, creating the bridge between fashion and the visual arts.

Joana Vasconcelos, Golden Valkyrie (2012) at Versailles. Photo: Luís Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos, Golden Valkyrie (2012) at Versailles. Photo: Luís Vasconcelos

There seemed to be a Wizard of Oz dramatic reveal, when this vague pre-show black and white constellation turned into this multi-hued organism. You’ve done large-scale projects before but this seems to have been a very Hollywood-style mega production. What was it like working with Dior on this?

It was amazing. They are very professional and overall it was a very respectful approach, where the creative process is honored every step of the way. The energy created throughout the different stages really shone through in the show, as everything and everyone came together.

I am very proud of this piece. It stands as a testimony of an amazing collaboration, of the great things that can happen when people get together and join efforts to create something bigger than the sum of their parts.

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Luxury Label Moncler Merged a Mercedes-Benz With a Puffer Coat in Its Latest ‘Genius’ Collaboration

Closing out London Fashion Week on Monday, the luxury outerwear brand Moncler presented its latest “The Art of Genius” series of collaborations with a madcap evening of immersive live events. The night culminated with the unveiling of a unique Mercedes-Benz art piece. The sculpture on wheels, dubbed Project Mondo G, was revealed to be a G-Class SUV off-roader seemingly wrapped in a Moncler puffer coat, complete with a zipper on top. 

Alicia Keys performs on her iconic piano for "The Art of Genius" event. Courtesy of Moncler.

Alicia Keys plays her iconic piano for Moncler’s “The Art of Genius.” Courtesy of Moncler.

Moncler’s fashion show-turned-technological extravaganza took over London’s Olympia venue and drew a crowd of 10,000 people. Alicia Keys kicked off the festivities with a nearly hour-long live set of her greatest hits. The uplifting performance also served as a preview of Keys’s own Moncler pairing; her backup dancers were spotted in pieces from her upcoming collection. Other participants who introduced Genius collaborations included Pharrell Williams, Palm Angels, FRGMT, Adidas Originals, Salehe Bembury, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, and Rick Owens. 

Pharrell Williams attends the Moncler "The Art of Genius” exhibition on February 20, 2023, in London. (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Pharrell Williams attends Moncler’s “The Art of Genius” exhibition on February 20, 2023, in London. (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Pharrell Williams—sporting a picnic blanket on the red carpet that doubled as a cape—delivered a high-tech, outdoorsy collection around the notion of ‘glamping.’ Elsewhere, FRGMT designer Hiroshi Fujiwara employed animatronic baby robots to model his collection. For Roc Nation, Jay-Z installed dozens of speakers around the space allowing guests to contribute their own vocals, which were musically engineered in real time by award-winning producer Mike Dean.

Producer Mike Dean mixing sounds in Roc Nation by Jay-Z's installation. Courtesy of Moncler.

Producer Mike Dean mixing sounds in Roc Nation by Jay-Z’s installation. Courtesy of Moncler.

For his “The Art of Design” installation, Rick Owens showcased sleeping pods in which theoretical travelers would slumber while wearing his bubble-inspired designs. Owens’s exhibition space turned into an outdoor dance floor, where a roster of DJs played, carrying the festivities well into the night.

A model and baby robot present FRGMT's collaboration with Moncler. Courtesy of Moncler.

A model and baby robot present FRGMT’s collaboration with Moncler. Courtesy of Moncler.

Moncler first introduced its “Genius” series of collaborations in 2018 as an experimental platform for outside designers to reinterpret its core DNA, particularly its wildly popular puffer coat. Or as Remo Ruffini, Chairman and CEO of Moncler, said, “Our ambition was to create and share new energy with ever new communities, while going beyond the conventions of the fashion sector and collaborating with extraordinary talents to create something totally new and unexpected.” The idea has taken off.

Moncler and Mercedes-Benz reveal Project Mondo G. Photo: Lukas Müller. Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.


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Hublot and Artist Takashi Murakami Unveil Their Vividly Fun, Very Floral Fourth Collaboration

It’s the watch that always tells you it’s time to be ecstatic. The latest Hublot and Takashi Murakami collaboration has just been announced, and the collection is heavy on the Japanese icon’s signature radiantly-smiling, rainbow-hued flowers. The timepieces combine precision luxury watchmaking with digital art and will go on sale in April.

Two of the NFTs Takashi Murakami created for the collaboration. Courtesy of Hublot.

Two of the NFTs Takashi Murakami created for the collaboration. Courtesy of Hublot.

This is the fourth pairing of the Swiss heritage brand and Murakami, and it was feted with a glam Manhattan blowout on February 4. The event was attended by various art and fashion world luminaries and the artist himself, who cut a dapper swath in a flower cap of his own design, with a grin to match his character’s.

Takashi Murakami at the February 2 launch event in New York. Courtesy of Hublot.

Takashi Murakami at the February 2 launch event in New York. Courtesy of Hublot.

The collection encompasses 13 NFTs and watch styles that are inspired by 1970s Japanese video games and TV shows, with visual nods to the 2021 Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami All Black, the debut collaboration between the horlogerie and Murakami.

The 13th watch style is limited to an edition of one. The Classic Fusion Takashi Murakami Black Ceramic Rainbow really gives the flower a reason to smile: Its 12 petals are blinged out in rubies, sapphires, amethysts, tsavorites, and topaz. It was on display at the event, where an eager crowd amassed around it and its maker.

The ultra limited-edition Hublot Murakmi watch is adorned in gems. Courtesy of Hublot.

The ultra limited-edition Hublot Murakmi watch is adorned in gems. Courtesy of Hublot.

The timepiece will be awarded to the buyer who manages to buy and trade 12 NFTs by April 2024. In the event no one accomplishes the mission, it will be auctioned off by Hublot to benefit charity. It’s a win-win situation.

“After creating all the timepieces together, as well as the digital works of art,” Murakami said. “We are now imagining new ways of accessing contemporary art.” The remaining 12 editions will be unveiled at Watches and Wonders in Geneva in April.

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Henri Matisse’s Great-Grandson Has Collaborated With Guerlain on a $17,000 Perfume Bottle Inspired by the Celebrated Painter

In its latest art-world dalliance, heritage French parfumerie Guerlain has partnered with Maison Matisse on a limited-edition perfume bottle that pays homage to the venerated artist and the joie de vivre he painted.

The centerpiece of the collaboration is Guerlain’s Bee Bottle, so named for the small bees—an emblem of the French empire—that master glassmaker Pochet du Courval etched into the original flacon in 1853, so as to be presentable to Empress Eugénie upon her marriage to Napoleon III.

The Bee Bottle—now an emblem of Guerlain—sees a colorful transformation for the new collaboration, inspired by Henri Matisse’s La Musique (1939). The painting, currently held by Buffalo AKG Art Museum in New York, emphasizes harmony and bonhomie in its depiction of two seated women, one of whom strums a guitar, while outsized philodendron leaves fan out behind them.

Various views of the Bee Bottle Maison Matisse Edition. Courtesy of Guerlain.

Various views of the Bee Bottle Maison Matisse Edition. Courtesy of Guerlain.

Each flacon, including its stopper, is hand-painted by Astrid de Chaillé, French decorative painter acclaimed for her restoration work at the Palace of Versailles and other historic sites. De Chaillé artfully recreates the bold colors and graphic shapes that make up La Musique.

“My great-grandfather’s works are very multi-sensory,” said Jean-Mathieu Matisse, founder of Maison Matisse and scion of the celebrated artist, to Midnight Publishing Group News. “His was a world full of plants and flowers, and they became recurring motifs in his work. Therefore, there are a lot of coherent connections between his work and the artistry of Guerlain perfume. We wanted to pass on the visual world that my great-grandfather created, drawing inspiration from the images, colors, and shapes of his works.” 

Limited to 14 signed and numbered pieces, and priced accordingly ($17,000), the one-liter Bee Bottle Maison Matisse Edition comes packaged in a wooden case—a nod to the crates used for transporting art.

Bottles of Jasmin Bonheur. Courtesy of Guerlain.

Bottles of Jasmin Bonheur. Courtesy of Guerlain.

To go inside the reimagined bottle, Guerlain perfumers have crafted Couleur Bonheur, a new fragrance with dynamic, modern notes interpreting the lively hues of Matisse’s palette. In addition, Guerlain has launched Jasmin Bonheur as part of its “L’Art & La Matière” collection of fragrances, its inspiration taken from another of Matisse’s spirited works, Les Mille et Une Nuits (1951).

“Henri Matisse has become synonymous with happiness,” continued Matisse. “With his simplified brushstrokes he wanted to bring joyful emotions to life for everyone. The creations within this collaboration therefore evoke the same energy, daring, and warmth.”

The new offering follows on the heels of Guerlain’s partnership with the Yves Klein Foundation. To commemorate the 110th anniversary of Guerlain’s famed L’Heure Bleue scent, the foundation created an Art Nouveau-inspired bottle in velvety all-over International Klein Blue, the signature shade of ultramarine that the French artist patented in 1960.

On the contemporary art front, Guerlain also teamed up with Slovakian-born, Amsterdam-based artist Tomáš Libertíny, who literally works with bees in his pursuit of nature-based beauty. In honor of World Bee Day 2022, he created a living sculpture for Guerlain, a honeycomb that grew around a Bee Bottle over the course of a month.

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Chanel Has Tapped French Artist Xavier Veilhan to Confect the Playful Sculptures in Its Latest Couture Collection

Chanel enlisted French artist Xavier Veilhan to craft a menagerie of animals as the set design for its spring 2023 haute couture collection at the Grand Palais Éphémère in Paris today.

The last in a three-part collaboration with the French luxury house, Veilhan created the animated sculptures—a lion, camel, buffalo, elephant, and many others—to evoke a “parade of animals” in a village festival.

Choose your avatar amongst Xavier Veilhan's haute couture menagerie. Courtesy of Chanel.

Choose your avatar among Xavier Veilhan’s haute couture menagerie. Courtesy of Chanel.

“I’m interested in how animals are linked to certain places: towns, folklore, traditions…[so] I suggested a setting that resembled a village fête,” explained the artist. “It’s also an exploration of what our own imaginings can be.”

The 59-year-old artist works in a variety of mediums, including photography and painting. He’s best-known for sculptures in his signature angular or jagged style, like that of his cardboard and wood animals for Chanel. Veilhan’s creations have been installed in public spaces around the world, most notably in Miami’s Design District, where he created an homage to Le Corbusier, and at the Palace of Versailles in 2009.

A dog sculpture by Xavier Veilhan for Chanel haute couture. Courtesy of Chanel.

Xavier Veilhan represented France in the 2017 Venice Biennale. He transformed the French pavilion into an immersive recording studio, in which he invited professional musicians from around the world to perform for the duration of the Biennale.

His collaboration with Chanel came at the request of its creative director Virginie Viard—who assumed the role following Karl Lagerfeld’s death in 2019.

Chanel’s Virginie Viard and artist Xavier Veilhan. Courtesy of Chanel.

“Virginie Viard asked me if I could work around the idea of Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment and its bestiary,” the artist said, referring to the original couturière’s home atop the spiral staircase of her Paris boutique and atelier (although she famously retired to the Ritz each night). That’s where Viard and Veilhan would meet to go over ideas, amid the fashion icon’s collection of small animal sculptures, thus a theme was born.

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