When Anselm Reyle was invited by Dior to collaborate on an exclusive accessories line, the artist had no reservations in swapping giant canvases for sheets of embossed leather.
The German contemporary artist, famed for his large abstract paintings and found-object sculptures, has long enjoyed a strong reception from the fashion world.
"A number of people from the industry have been collecting my work," he reveals. "I understood why it would be particularly appealing because my focus is on texture, colours, and materiality. In the art world, these aspects are not so highly regarded; whereas in fashion there's a different understanding and appreciation of them."
Reyle's deliberately over-the-top striped canvases in automobile paint and glitter, huge gatherings of crumpled foil and LED sculptures of neon light, caught Dior's eye. Deputy general manager, Delphine Arnault and her father, had long admired the Berlin-based artist. Before talks of collaboration arose, the LVMH bosses had been collecting his work.
Dior gave Reyle carte blanche to translate his work, with its notions of kitsch and Pop Art, into covetable products the chic Dior customer would have swinging from one arm.
"I quickly realised I couldn't use the things I normally use in my art, such as stripes, because they just work differently in a high-end or tasteful environment. That's why the camouflage actually worked well because it's something you would normally see on street wear and not in this high fashion context."
The acid bright camouflage print is emblazoned across Lady Dior's ubiquitous Cannange bags and silk scarves throughout the collection. Miss Dior bags are re-imagined in metallic leathers with neon topstitching. Ballet slippers, totes and key fobs all carry the exuberant print. Nail varnishes in hot pink, silver and blue echo the wall of vibrant paints lining Reyle's studio and offers the customer an opportunity to paint their own "canvas".
The collection reworks classic Dior shapes with new print and textures to alter meaning. It is an approach the artist applies to his own art. He works with found objects to adjust the surface and place them in a new context.
For Reyle, the snobbery associated with art and more commercial ventures is relinquishing. When studying at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in both Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, creating pieces for such projects was not readily accepted by the art world. However, the two industries are increasingly working together more. The lure to collaborate with the one of fashion's luxury heavyweights was, for Reyle, an opportunity to challenge and break the rules.
"Things like effect, surface, the decorative element in classic paintings or art have negative connotations. That's why I was specifically interested working with those things," he explains.
"When I was studying art, such collaborations weren't considered "right". But I was always interested in taboos and breaking them." §
Nails Jenni Draper @ Carol Hayes Management