Art and mode in resonance -Joseph Ari Aloi × COMME des GARÇONS

Every season, a lot of items appear on the runway which are embedded with art. Each and every piece of art is chosen especially by the designer and so carries with it a hint of their strong willpower, and behind each piece exist the history and stories of each artist and brand. These pieces are special in that they were born out of the resonance of both art and fashion. It would be unfortunate if people were to wear them without realizing this fact. If you know the background behind an item, it will help you love the brand and the designer even more. We would like you to realize the joy of wearing these objects by learning about art through these objects of high fashion.

When we talk about the connections between art and mode, it is impossible to ignore the presence of COMME des GARÇONS. They have featured a wide variety of artists through various media, like their invitation cards, look books, their magazine, Six, and of course the actual pieces featured in their collections as well as their commercials. The numbers don’t just stop at a hundred or two, but of course the important thing isn’t the number of artists; it’s who is selected. Of course, age and gender, nationality have no say here, and even fame doesn’t matter; if Kawakubo Rei and the people working for the brand think the artist is interesting, the matter is decided. While sometimes they might surprise the world by collaborating with a leading figure known world-wide who had until then never concerned themselves with the fashion world, the next season they might focus the spotlight in a young artist who hadn’t been famous in Japan up until that point, as to spread their talent into the world. We can only take off our hats in reverence to the amplitude of their choices and the amazing timing they have with presenting new talent. The collection that had the most impact in the past few years must’ve been the 2015-2016AW COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS collection.

At first glance, the design might look like colourful gravity, almost like some kind of magic spell. The actual collection started with leggings at first look, continuing to combine them with turtle neck sweaters and in the end showed some of the jackets and bags, with almost all of these looks using this design. The artist responsible was JK5, also known as Joseph Ari Alo. He is a tattoo artist active in the Brooklyn area. In the tattoo world he was already fairly well-known, but of course that means that until now he was only really known in the underground area that is the tattoo world. We are not sure how COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS, lead by Kawakubo Rei, found their way to him, but the truth is that the act of pulling this artist known as Joseph Ari Alo from this underground scene up to this completely different territory of of ‘Mass Fashion’ made him famous overnight throughout the whole world. The items born from this collaboration carry designs of tattoo’s, which as a concept are made by pressing ink directly on the scan, to stay there semi-permanently; these are now destined to be consumed as the ‘clothes’ all of us wear every day. This collection is definitely one of a kind.

The artist, Joseph Ari Aloi himself, was apparently besides himself with joy when he was asked to collaborate with COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS. In an interview, he says the following. “I feel honoured that my own style, which I’ve been growing slowly until now, will be used as the binding rope for a collection, both conceptually as symbolically, while also playing an aesthetic role”. In truth, the collection, which used many of his pieces, surprised many people and is very popular even today. Collections like the COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS collection which used Joseph Ari Aloi’s works, follow the line of RAF SIMONS which used art pieces by Peter Saville, and can be said to keep their value as archive items just by the fact that they art pieces. The only question remaining is, which artist will be picked next by COMME des GARÇONS? And in what way will other luxury brands continue to collaborate with artists? Keeping a keen eye to find out the answers will continue to make us follow the latest trends, let us find the joy of getting to know new archive items and the joyful feeling of wearing clothes. And beyond that, it will also give us another portal into the new world of art.