The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's latest art-meets-fashion Wear LACMA collection features necklaces designed by Jennifer Meyer and cashmere scarves, blankets and T-shirts by the Elder Statesman's Greg Chait.
The third iteration of the collaborative effort, which taps Los Angeles designers to create clothing and accessories inspired by artwork in the museum’s permanent collection, has Meyer paying homage to artist Ed Ruscha and Chait taking inspiration from a variety of pieces including an early 20th century quilt, a 19th century oil painting of a Chippewa chief and a 15th to 16th century Peruvian textile.
Although the process usually starts with the program’s creator Katherine Ross (and wife of LACMA museum director Michael Govan) taking the designers on a personal tour of and treasure hunt through the museum’s extensive holdings, Meyer says that wasn't required in order for her to make a decision. She immediately gravitated to Ed Ruscha’s “Made in California” (1971, lithograph on Arches paper).
“Ed Ruscha is one of my favorite artists in the world and I think he’s one of the greatest Los Angeles-based artists of all time,” she told us at Tuesday evening’s collection launch. “And I was made in California, my kids were born and raised in California -- it spoke to me in a big way.”
The only wrinkle, Meyer explained, was that to avoid rights and permissions issues, Ross suggested the designers take inspiration from artists no longer among the living. “She said that if I wanted to use that piece, I’d have to be the one to ask him for permission.”
Evidence of Ruscha’s response can be seen in the distinctive lettering of Meyer's “MadeinCalifornia” necklaces; one in 18 karat yellow gold ($1,350) and another in 18 karat white diamond pave ($6,450).
Chait’s tour of the museum turned up a bumper crop of inspiration -- including pieces from LACMA’s extensive textile holdings. “In the old days you got your tobacco [in pouches] and you’d get these silkies in the package with things printed on them, which were collectibles -- kind of like baseball cards,” he explained. “And I found this quilt that was made out of a whole bunch of those silkies.”
Two different images of Native American Indians in feathered headdresses plucked from Mrs. Charles Elwell’s “Bed Cover, ‘Cigarette Silks,’” (1912, silk and cotton plain weave lithograph-printed with silk embroidery) are digitally printed on the pockets of cashmere T-shirts ($485 each), with a print of the larger quilt adorning a scarf ($180). A third T-shirt (also $485) bears a larger image of a Native American in feathered regalia and was inspired by Henry Inman’s “No-Tin (Wind), a Chippewa Chief," (1832-1833, oil on canvas).
Along the way, Chait also came across a Peruvian feather-motif he knew he had to include (“Textile with Design of Feathers,” Peru, South Coast, Inca Peoples, 1476-1534). Its influence can be seen in a feather scarf ($235), a larger pashmina in the same pattern ($958) and a colorful and woven blanket with a blue background and feather designs in pops of bright pink and purple that was the center of attention at Tuesday’s launch party.
“Those just came in today,” Chait told us. “I wasn’t sure they were going to make it. They were hand-loomed in Guatemala by a guy who even built the loom he made them on. ”
The Wear LACMA collection (with all proceeds benefiting the museum) is available now at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles as well as online at thelacmastore.org. New this season is a partnership with luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter that allows customers to purchase the Wear LACMA wares through that website as well.