Graffiti can cause strong reactions. I engaged with a person recently who felt thought there could be little meaning from street art, and that graffiti was an offense of the worst kind. His direct quote, is as follows:
The graffiti pictures, you just love the color blends and the risk they took and the rebellious attitude. Maybe if someone put graffiti on your house or on you directly you would also find such pleasure in that.
Some people do put graffiti straight on their bodies, and I think it’s pretty cool.
This gives me some great ideas for Halloween . . . .although it’s doubtful I’d make it out of the house with at least some clothing covering me.
So when does graffiti meet fashion? While I wish I could say I was the first to be inspired by the Urban Landscape and graffiti, I certainly am not. One of the most iconic designers to use graffiti was Stephen Sprouse (1953 – 2004). A fashion designer and artist, Sprouse infused elite, Fifth Avenue culture and their wardrobe with street style. His signatures? Day-glo colors and graffiti-printed clothing.
His first major success was in 1983, and his cloths sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, and swanky boutiques. Interesting that suck ritzy clientele would adorn their body in wearable graffiti.
Part of the allure was high quality, expensive fabrics that were custom dyed and hand painted by Sprouse himself. It was a disheveled, deluxe chic. Other characteristics of his clothes included the Day-Glo colors, all-black palettes, mirrored sequins, high-tech fabrics and Velcro attachments.
In 1987-8, Sprouse produced a line that used Andy Warhol’s Camouflage as a screen print as well as abstract graffiti prints of Jesus Christ that were a collaboration with artist Keith Haring.
His biggest success was a collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton in 2001. The collection was Sprouse’s graffiti sprawled rendition of the Louis Vuitton logo and name printed over the classic monogram design. The fashion world went gaga, and the pieces sold-out instantly.
Posthumously, his success continues. For both Fall 2006 and 2008, Marc Jacobs utilized Sprouse’s graffiti images for handbags, shoes, and scarves for Louis Vuitton, which sold-out instantly. This tribute to Sprouse garnered worldwide press, and a cult-like following.
Marc Jacobs went on about Sprouse and how, with his graffiti infused clothing, has changed the landscape of fashion. Jacobs wanted to deface the traditional LV monogram with graffiti, which he says:
has always viewed and a defiant act, a rebellious act but that creates a new surface with, giving new meaning to something old.
Mr. Jacobs is such a fan that he appeared in several magazine editorials naked and painted in Sprouse’s graffiti.
Apparently, so does LVMH, the mega conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton, They graffiti-ed all of the store fronts for the collection debut, and are still pulling profits in this economic downturn. I guess graffiti can be genius after all.