Designers curate Paddle8’s Art x Fashion auction

Where does fashion find its inspiration? Paddle8 has teamed up with the CFDA to answer that question in an auction curated entirely by designers. Twenty participants, including Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Tory Burch, Ralph Lauren, Francisco Costa, and Stacey Bendet each chose one piece of art that has influenced their work in some way to be sold as part of Art x Fashion, now open for bidding. The competition is already hot: “This is a piece that I really wanted to buy,” says Bendet, creative director of Alice & Olivia, of why she selected the 2015 watercolor painting Lovers by Francesco Clemente for the auction. “I’m totally bidding,” she adds with a cheeky laugh. The works range from fashion photographs by Bill Cunningham and Peter Lindbergh to a Louise Bourgeois lithograph to a print by German artist Janaina Tschäpe, whose print Ettersburg II Calvin Klein creative director Francisco Costa picked for this project. “There is something organic about this work,” he told Bazaar. “I wanted something that was quite catchy, quite interesting, and that really embodies her work.” Costa first got to know Tschäpe as a neighbor, not an artist. “Janaina is a dear friend. We’re neighbors in Bellport.” Costa still remembers the first time he saw Tschäpe’s work. “This was probably ten years ago. She was married to the artist Vik Muniz at the time, and I was with her in Brooklyn. She says, ‘Just walk me to my studio.’ The whole wall was this magical, intertwined drawing. It was gigantic—the whole room had this back-drop of layered foliage in pencil strokes and paint, all shades of green. It felt like we all of a sudden went into her world.” Costa is a keen collector himself, a fan of works ranging from Bruce Nauman’s installation art to less expected objets—at one point, he had a large collection of crucifixes, he divulges. “Whenever I see something I like, I need to have it!” Costa laughs. But his real philosophy on the matter is quite the opposite: “There’s something nice about collecting with your mind, in a way, not needing to have it but just to keep it in your mind. It’s a freeing experience to really appreciate and love something but not need to have it.” Bendet’s aesthetic is also wide ranging, with Dustin Yellin (who made her dining room table), Lola Schnabel, Lucian Smith, Frank Stella, and of course Clemente high on her watch list right now. “He’s one of my favorite artists and a friend of mine. His textures, detail, and India influences are always an inspiration to me,” she says. “Sometimes it’s like my palette cleanse; when I’m in a design rut, I look at his work.” Why is she so hot on Lovers? “When you look at it, you see it. There’s one figurine climbing through and sort of reaching over into the other person’s head. It’s a beautiful connection between people,” explains Bendet, who befriended Clemente after meeting the fellow yogi through her instructor, Eddie Stern. “When you meet Francesco, that’s sort of how he is—he has this beauty and a little bit of darkness to him, and you easily connect with him.” If Bendet is in fact the highest bidder, the piece will be the second Clemente painting in her home, joining The Tree of Life. “It’s this incredibly large painting of what looks like a tree, but within the tree are all these sexual figures intertwined. It was funny because it’s hanging in our bedroom, and I swear right after we hung it, I got pregnant with my daughter Athena,” she says. “True tree of life!” Recently, the designer also has her eye on eighties artists, specifically Julian Schnabel. “He’s a friend also, and I have an obsession with his plate paintings,” made with shards of broken porcelain plates. “He did a plate portrait of our daughters last year, and watching him paint, seeing the passion that goes into his process, you fall more so in love with him. He completely captured their energy at that moment,” she marvels. And there was lots of energy to capture. “The girls were horrible!” Bendet laughs. “My oldest is tough, and there was this stare-down between her and Julian. He’s such a commanding presence, and a little grumpy, so I was like, ‘Uh oh, who’s going to win?!’ He looked at her and said, ‘Eloise, you’re going to be still now.’ She had this pout on, and he captured it perfectly. Now they love each other.” But first came one more hiccup. “The third time we went to Julian’s studio, Lou Reed’s wife was there with her dog. Eloise and Scarlett were chasing the dog around, and then the dog bit one of them,” Bendet says with a smile. “That was the end of that session.” Bidding for Art x Fashion closes on November 19.
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