Friezing Out Prada
There is no catwalk and the arty, classy, whimsical and wondrous outfits are not worn by models.
Yet London’s Frieze art fair has become a fashion barometer – a click-and-tell of how we dress now.
This is not a peacock parade. Most of the people present – male or female – belong to the art world as dealers, connoisseurs or buyers.
International, well-travelled, with a passport tucked into that Céline bag and good to go in a pair of a Louboutin sneakers, the Frieze crowds are not dedicated followers of fashion.
Both for the modern and contemporary art displays under canvas, or in the tent for the more measured Frieze Masters – also in London ‘s Regent’s Park – these people are not fiends for modernity. Nor are they attempting to make their outfits as inventive as the artworks around them.
Frieze visitors are fashion’s tastemakers in a multi-national world.
And just as the art presentations are calmer, cleaner and less obviously showy, so the clothes have changed in surprising ways.
Last October, Prada’s winter 2013 collection was so prevalent at Frieze that it could have been dubbed a “Miuccia moment”.
Yet when my colleague Natasha and I had stopped a dozen fashionables, only art collector Valeria Napoleone, dressed in colourful layers of Issey Miyake, mentioned the word “Prada”. About her socks.
Of course there were Prada shoes, a few bags and a couple of coats, but there were other fashion surprises.
But Perhaps it is <not> surprising that Saint Laurent hits the hot spot – for both sexes – and especially for well-cut trousers and bold hats. Since Hedi Slimane has been at the helm at YSL, the artistic have embraced his clothes.
Chloé is also on the up – the cute prettiness with a touch of hardness appealing to today’s women.
And what about Balmain, dismissed as over sexed, over the top and suited only to Russian sexpots? The vision of Tamara Ecclestone in a curvy Balmain skirt as she pushed her baby’s buggy was elegant and classy.
If there is now one fashion leader, it is Céline. The geometric minimalism of Phoebe Philo has taken over as the fashion base of many arty wardrobes. And the Céline bag looks like the must-have of the moment.
A surprise pop-up is Gucci, where the tailored coats with heavy metal from Frida Giannini form another baseline.
But, like the artists blending colours and textures or creating sculptural effects from unlikely materials, the power of fashion at Frieze lies in the mix.
The haute-boho spirit, part of the Seventies revival at the recent international shows for summer 2015, is already embedded in fashion. Or to subvert Marina Abramovic’s famous line: the arty is present.
And one thing that I am prepared to bet on: come Frieze 2015, Miuccia Prada’s brocade coats will be worn by the cognoscenti as perambulating works of art.