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Upward Spiral

If the Spring ’14 collections are any indication, fashion loves art—but does art love fashion? “I think the two worlds can’t quite resist each other!” offered Stella Tennant at the Guggenheim last night, where the creative spheres intersected during the museum’s Dior-underwritten annual gala. Hosted by honorary chairs Raf Simons and Dior CEO Sidney Toledano in the Guggenheim’s spiraling Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda, the dinner was held in honor of artists James Turrell, whose blockbuster exhibition of light installations attracted over 500,000 visitors earlier this year, and Christopher Wool, whose retrospective is currently on view. “I don’t actually know a lot about it,” offered Wool of the fashion-art crossover. Turrell, likewise, was genuinely surprised to learn that his work served as the inspiration for Calvin Klein Collection’s latest menswear range. “How did that work out?” he chuckled (“Pretty damn well!” we told him).

As the evening progressed and the likes of Natalie Portman, Jessica Biel, Cindy Sherman, and Leelee Sobieski happily mingled between courses of mushroom salad and filet mignon, it seemed that the two worlds (with a dash of Hollywood as a buffer) were getting on famously. Jeff Koons drew parallels between the practices. “Fashion is a curiosity about our internal life and our external world. So are the fine arts—and that’s wonderful,” he said. Willy Vanderperre, too, felt they were on the same plane. “Fashion and art are both a reflection of the times,” he proposed. But it still seems that the fashion types owe the art world quite a debt. “Art is the ultimate inspiration,” proclaimed Olivier Rizzo. “It’s where designers find their creativity!” concurred Gaia Repossi—who, in addition to crafting jewelry, is also a painter.

Perhaps the most profound statement, though, came from Raf Simons, who, as Toledano explained, was the driving force behind the Dior-Guggenheim partnership. “It all started with art for me when I was 15 or 16,” said the designer. “Jan Hoet, a famous Belgian curator from a city close to where I lived, curated Documenta when I was a kid, and that left a massive mark. It awakened my interest very strongly,” he recalled. “But it’s not just that art plays a role in my creative process. Art is the ultimate. I couldn’t really live without it.” That may be true, but after watching last night’s gaggle of Dior-clad women float across the floor in their often embellished, sculptural gowns, we’d have to argue that Mr. Simons is at least a bit of an artist himself.

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