Fashion week brings together top designers with budding artists in visual arts. Loewe was the latest example of such a collaboration. This industry favorite is known for its wearable, yet radical wardrobe.
Loewe collaborated with Julien Nguyen to present its Fall/Winter 2023 Paris Fashion Week Show this month. Los Angeles-based, Washington, D.C.-born artist creates a lot off-kilter paintings that combine art history and speculative fiction. Although the results can be surreal and saturated, they still have the inner logic of any urgent dream.
In the Whitney Biennial of 2017, two of his paintings, Executive Functional and Executive Solution were both included. These paintings were filled with angelic allusions and nudes, which are all reminiscent of Renaissance masters such as Sandro Botticelli. These elements weren’t stale or boring, but they were framed in arrangements that reminded me of the New York Times.
Nguyen’s solo exhibition “Super-predators” at Freedman Fitzpatrick, Los Angeles featured more tableaux dotted with pop cultural crossovers. These included aliens, former presidents, and noble wraiths, all mingling within a Boschian pitof horror.
Nguyen made three artworks for Loewe: a miniature watercolor on Vellum of his Muse Nikos, decorated with pithy messages, symbols, and that alluded to private feelings; as well as two digital art pieces that featured Nikos in a Paris hotel.
Nguyen spoke out during a conversation recorded with Jonathan Anderson, Loewe’s artistic directors. “I believe that by working with a familiar subject, I can draw out something more bizarre than I could if I was thinking more topically, historically, conceptually.”
This miniature was created in the style Nicholas Hilliard, an Elizabethan portraitist. Anderson and Nguyen share an admiration for Hilliard. Hilliard was a popular court artist and created some of the finest, most detailed miniatures of all time.
The invitation to the show featured Nguyen’s miniature. It features Nikos against a vivid blue background. This is a nod towards the famous hue Hilliard used for his portraits.
Nguyen stated, “What’s so beautiful about the historical techniques I find myself drawn too,” Nguyen explained. “These things have been troubleshooted over hundreds of years; constant experimentation allows you to come up with incongruous combinations and ways of doing it.
He said, “Tradition is thrilling to me,” adding that it was not tradition for its sake but as a fossil record of people trying out different things.