Art + Fashion: Designer Rosetta Getty and Artist Analia Saban Model Getty's Fall Collection
By Christina Binkley
Oct 01, 2017 | 5:00 AM
After a lengthy match of phone tag, the fashion designer Rosetta Getty and the Argentinian-Italian artist Analia Saban met in August. Saban tried on looks from Getty’s fall collection while Getty explored the artist’s legendary light-filled Santa Monica studio. A mutual admiration society was born. “I had butterflies in my stomach,” says Getty, who as an art collector had been eyeing Saban’s work for several years.
Getty and Saban have each emerged as rising talents by subverting norms of their respective fields—not as intentional acts of revolution but by following their own creative whims. Getty’s fashion design begins with her druthers for her own closet. By creating the wardrobe she desires for herself each season, she produces such things as a languid cashmere evening gown so soft and cozy it could double as pajamas. Morphing from one season to the next with no obvious nods to season or trend, the Rosetta Getty look is intended to be collectible for the long term rather than part of the fashion-trend cycle. It defies the traditional boundaries of day, work and evening wear while looking both powerful and comfortable. Vogue summed up a recent Getty collection as having “a balance of monumentality and movement.”
“My ultimate muse is a woman who is very strong and incredibly intelligent and a real leader, yet at the same time is very feminine,” Getty says. “And she doesn’t change how she feels about things based on others.” Getty exudes a sense of controlled calm, moving languidly, speaking deliberately, giving purpose to each word. With fabric, she gives weight to each fold, seam and button. She launched her eponymous line in 2014, after waiting out the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Serving as her own muse, she has gradually filled her closet, which once contained a quantity of Céline and Hermès, with her own designs. “I look at my collections like that because it will be my wardrobe,” she says. “I feel my customer will be in the same situation I’m in. It’s something we’ve been successful with. We sell pretty much everything we show.” That makes her a rebel in the business—shipping fall clothing in the fall, when other labels are already shipping resort or spring looks. “I believe the psychology of the shopper has changed so much in the last few years,” she says. “They’re not buying for the next three months. They’re buying for now.”
Upon meeting Getty, Saban says she discovered a designer who could lure her out of the black T-shirts that she chooses in order to neutralize any need to attend to fashion fads. “She isn’t following a trend, she’s really doing whatever she wants,” says Saban. The 36-year-old artist’s work defies her own world’s boundaries—of painting, sculpture and craft—by deploying materials in ways they were never intended. She has woven strands of dried latex paint with linen threads on a wooden loom housed in her studio. Saban recently concluded three shows, including “Folds and Faults” at the Sprueth Magers gallery in Los Angeles, in which she presented works of concrete folded as though it were fabric. Her technique involved bending slabs with a crane, then draping them over wooden frames or laying them on tables like bath towels.
Saban’s work is represented at museums—including LACMA, the Hammer, MOCA and the Centre Pompidou in Paris—and in influential private collections such as those of Cindy and Howard Rachofsky of Dallas, Don and Mera Rubell of Miami, and Maurice and Paul Marciano in Los Angeles. She was born in Buenos Aires, moving to Los Angeles in 2002 to study art at UCLA, where the conceptual artist John Baldessari was one of her teachers. He remains a mentor, and Saban eventually took over the lease on the studio where she recently met Getty.
The studio is cluttered with the artifacts of former occupants. Before Baldessari, it was occupied by the photographer William Wegman (Saban says that she has been able to pursue photography using the darkroom Wegman left behind). “There have been so many creative people doing so many incredible things in that studio,” says Getty. “I believe that sort of resonates there.” Saban concedes it’s an awe-inspiring place to work. “It really has a history,” she notes. “Some people know the address by heart.”
Saban isn’t sure how long she’ll be able to keep the studio, given the speed of real-estate development and rising rents in Santa Monica. “We’ve never had a lease. It’s been month-to-month for something like forty years.” Much of the art world has recently been drawn to downtown L.A. and nearby neighborhoods such as Echo Park and Boyle Heights. Saban and her husband, who is training to be an oncologist and hematologist at USC, recently moved to an 1890 “Edwardian-Georgian” home in West Adams, where they are raising chickens and rabbits. It has been a homecoming of sorts, as Saban commuted from New York for several years while her husband completed his residency.
Getty, too, is a New York commuter. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, the actor and oil heir Balthazar Getty, and their four children in the hills above Sunset Boulevard. But her working studio is in New York City, where she often toils on weekdays. Despite L.A.’s burgeoning apparel industry, New York offers a stronger infrastructure for producing and distributing luxury fashions, says Getty, who briefly considered moving her studio to Italy to be even closer to the luxury industry’s heart. The frequent travel, she says, is tricky. “But for me it’s something that really works, because I go to New York and I work twenty-four seven. The kids are at school and at sports.”
Getty and Saban met at Getty’s suggestion. “I’ve been following Analia for several years now,” she says. “I like to meet the artist before bringing something into my home. It’s such an intimate experience having a piece of art. I don’t have a very busy home as far as things. I keep things minimal.” Having now met Saban, Getty remains intrigued. “I don’t want to imply that I understand her work fully,” she says. “She’s someone who I could really talk and talk and talk and talk with forever.”