Some Like It Haute


Left: Gilles Hennessy and Sabina Belli. (Except where noted, all photos: Nicolas Trembley) Right: Chicks on Speed at the Pompidou Center. (Photo: Bertrand Prévost)

These days, fashion week in Paris looks a lot like art week, with countless galleries hired out by top designers to show off their creations and acres of prime museum real estate used for runway shows: Haute couture has obviously concluded that contemporary art adds that necessary je ne sais quoi to its glamorous proceedings. “Entrepreneurs like us could be described as the new patrons of the arts, latter-day Medicis,” said Sabina Belli, standing with Gilles Hennessy at an event unveiling a hundred-year-old cognac at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The venerable concoction is composed of more than one hundred liqueurs—and goes for €100,000. It does come in a specially designed box by Jean-Michel Othoniel.

The weekend got off to a roaring start with a performance at the Pompidou by interdisciplinary savants Chicks on Speed and master film artist Douglas Gordon, all outfitted for the occasion by legendary stylist and collector Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. A slideshow featuring the girl group posed in the art-filled home of Swiss collector Franz Wassmer was very entertaining. (The penthouse, with a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower, recently served as the site of a chichi after-party celebrating the arrival of the traveling Fischli & Weiss retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne.) By the end of the antics, Gordon was completely nude, sitting onstage in a bath of fluorescent paint, while the Chicks hollered over booming electro beats: “He is stuck in the art market, stuck in the art market!”

Not to be outdone, Bless invited its audience to a performance on the roof of the Montparnasse Tower. There, buffeted by blasts of wind, you could mingle about the catwalk with the newest generation of critics, curators, graphic designers, artists, and architects. Later, the art crowd reconvened at Dior’s luxe jewelry show, where Eric Troncy, a director of the Consortium in Dijon, had been commissioned by designer Victoire de Castellane to present her latest collection, “Belladone Island.” The jewelry was first displayed in the popular virtual-world video game Second Life in a setting created by artists Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille, followed up by a “real-life” show among Monet’s water lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie (with a film by Thai independent auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, highlighting the carnivorous plants that inspired the pieces, as an added bonus).

Left: L'Officiel's Julie Boukobza. Right: Elaine Sturtevant (right) with her grandson.

One event not to be missed (or so I heard, having missed it) was the preview for David Lynch’s retrospective, “The Air Is on Fire,” at the Cartier Foundation. The filmmaker worked with star cobbler Christian Louboutin on three shoes incorporated into sculptures. Apparently, the fashion world turned out in full force, including such glitterati as L’Wren Scott, Juergen Teller, Agnès B., Yohji Yamamoto, Inès de la Fressange, and even Balenciaga cynosure Nicolas Ghesquière, who—you guessed it—just completed a collaborative project with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster at the Musée d’Art Moderne.

Fashion loves an art star, and this season’s headliner proved to be appropriation doyenne Sturtevant. Her Warhol-inspired Black Marilyn was exhibited at Colette as part of the festivities marking the temple of high-concept chic’s tenth anniversary. Ten curators selected works for the boutique’s walls, including Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Stephanie Moisdon, Marie-Claude Beaud, Jeffrey Deitch, and Payam Sharifi. Cementing Sturtevant’s cult status, the most popular place to be and be seen at week’s end was the artist’s Thaddaeus Ropac blockbuster, “Raw Power,” a potent mix of works referencing everything from Robert Gober to Abu Ghraib. A minisymposium brought together the critics Ann Hindry and Raimund Stecker, Sturtevant herself, and MMK Frankfurt director Udo Kittelmann to dilate on the topic “falsity/truth.” I knew I wouldn’t understand a word, so I quickly shuffled off to neighboring gallery Cent8, where Serge Leborgne was presenting the work of Georges Tony Stoll, then hooked up with artist Hinrich Sachs, who accompanied me to Thomas Hirschhorn’s jarring exhibition at Chantal Crousel. Hirschhorn recently published a lengthy letter in Purple explaining why he didn’t want to be associated with fashion. Who could’ve guessed he’d be fighting off couturiers?

Saturday evening finally ended at Castel, the chic Parisian club, where Ropac and Frog magazine—whose cover features Sturtevant posing in vintage Chloé—threw a party for the artist with a dress code: “No messy running shoes.” Though Sturtevant had dislocated her shoulder while preparing for her exhibition, she was quite happy to dance till the wee morning hours surrounded by fashion folks like Irié, Pierre Hardy, and the CEO of Lanvin, now the art world’s special new friends.

Left: Designer Irié. Right: Artist Jean-Michel Othoniel and dealer Thaddaeus Ropac.

Left: BALTIC director Jérôme Sans. Right: Frog editors Eric Troncy and Stephanie Moisdon.

Left: Jewelry designer Victoire de Castellane and art director Thomas Lenthal. Right: Architect Christine Beinemeier and Feride Uslu at Bless.

Left: Curator Béatrice Parent and art critic Elisabeth Lebovici. Right: Artists Paul P. and Scott Treleaven.

Left: Lanvin's Paul Deneve, Anne Sophie D'everlange, and Carolina Ruiseco. Right: LVMH art-collection consultant Hervé Mikaeloff.

Left: Dealer Serge Leborgne. Right: Artist Hinrich Sachs at the Thomas Hirschhorn exhibition at Chantal Crousel.