Schools Training

Merging Photography and Fashion – The Dries van Noten and James Reeve Collaboration

29 JUN 2012
Career Path : Miscellaneous

Dries van Noten has been celebrated as a fashion designer with a bold aesthetic, one that is not confined to conventional techniques. What truly distinguishes van Noten from his contemporaries is his his ability to embrace methods and themes that would otherwise remain untried.

His bravado is most seen in his collaborative projects, of which there are many and entail him partnering up with artists who specialize in different crafts, namely; photography, typography, and visual art.

Recently, van Noten launched his Spring Summer 2012 women’s wear collection, titled “Garments, Lightscapes”. Inspired by photographer James Reeve’s “Lightscapes” photo series, van Noten contacted Reeve with the idea of merging their crafts and starting a fashion-photography collaboration.

Reeve’s photo series is a small collection of fifteen photos, all of which are rooted in his fascination with darkness. “I have always loved shooting during twilight and on into the hours of darkness,” says Reeve, “and this project was very much an evolution of my previous work. […] I wanted to approach shooting at night in a different way and embrace the darkness. Even more than that, I wanted to make it such a strong and imposing element of each image that it threatens to envelope these small scars of light that are fighting to pierce the darkness.”

Similar to Reeve’s desire direct his vision by using a novel approach, van Noten saw the potential to use the images in “Lightscapes” to bring a completely new element into his designs. “I was going to use prints of only things that were not created to be printed on fabric. So, 18th century etchings, technical drawings of butterfly wings, all these different things,” says Dries Van Noten.

The pieces in van Noten’s 2012 women’s collection embody Reeve’s prints, however, they are not simply garments with photographs on them. Rather, van Noten literally transformed Reeve’s prints into clothing, allowing his vision to survive in two different art forms. For example, one of Reeve’s photos, an aerial view of Beirut’s skyline, now exists on a stunning collared jacket, which is likely a delight for Reeve to see.

Of course, Dries van Noten is not the only designer working with other artists with the intention of merging two crafts. Recently, Marni collaborated with American illustrator Brian Rea for the Winter Edition collection, and Rick Owens partnered up with Chrome Hearts for an exclusive 2010 collection of outerwear. Surely, and with great anticipation, we can expect to see these designers continue on the collaborative paths.



Visit Cahier d’Exercices for more information on collaborative designers like Dries van Noten and Marni.