See fashion’s finest moments at the 59th Venice Biennale

After a three-year hiatus, the Venice Biennale returns with a packed roster of artistic happenings, alongside contributions from the world’s biggest fashion brands – from Bottega Veneta to Dior

 Woman dancer lies on floor and pulled sequinned fabric from under a silver cube
(Image credit: press)

This past weekend, the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale was inaugurated, returning after a three-year hiatus post-pandemic. Naturally, this meant an opening weekend more tightly packed than ever, as the art world descended on the city’s labyrinthine streets for an event that this year embraces themes of ‘symbiosis, solidarity and sisterhood’ with its central exhibition ‘The Milk of Dreams’, curated by Cecilia Alemani. Taking its name from a fairytale written by female Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), the vast majority of the artists exhibited are women or gender-non-conforming – a seismic shift for the historically male-dominated event. 

As ever, the world of fashion provided its own contribution – and some requisite glamour – to the Biennale’s opening weekend, whether supporting exhibitions or pavilions, hosting events, or sponsoring the ongoing renovation of the city’s many majestic Renaissance and Gothic wonders. Here, we round up the moments when art and fashion converged.

Fashion highlights from the 59th Venice BiennaleBottega Veneta celebrates dance

Woman dancer in underwear carries Bottega Veneta coat over shoulder

Lenio Kaklea’s performance as part of the Pinault Collection’s ‘Dancing Studies’, supported by Bottega Veneta 

(Image credit: press)

Venice is the spiritual home of Bottega Veneta; in 1966, it was founded by Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro in Vicenza, just 30-or-so miles west, and has long held a presence in La Serenissima itself. The house – which is now helmed by Paris-born designer Matthieu Blazy – will sponsor Venice’s Biennale Danza later this year in July, a celebration of the world’s best contemporary dance. 

Beginning this past weekend, though, Bottega will also support a series of contemporary dance performances, in collaboration with the Pinault Collection and titled ‘Dancing Studies’, inspired by the exhibition ‘Bruce Nauman: Contrapposto Studies’ currently on show at Punta della Dogana. For the first, Parisian dancer

Lenio Kaklea performed solo at a special event this weekend, with costumes designed by Blazy and watched on by friends of the house. Elsewhere in the city, Bottega has united with historic Italian typewriter maker Olivetti on fifteen limited-edition bags available in the Venice store and revealed a new Malick Bodian-shot campaign on a vast billboard which towers elegantly over the Grand Canal. 

Dior helps to preserve Venice’s heritage

The gilded painted ceiling of Venice’s Teatro La Fenice

The ceiling of Venice’s Teatro La Fenice.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Dior)

A richly fashioned gala from Dior – held amid the majestic gilded surrounds of Venice’s Teatro La Fenice – raised funds for the preservation of the city’s historic legacy this weekend, in particular the restoration of the Ca’d’Oro Museum which houses Baron Franchetti's collection of artistic treasures (the Palazzo itself is a Gothic masterpiece). The initiative is made possible through the Venetian Heritage Foundation, which Dior first collaborated with in 2019, as well as Peter Marino, the architect long linked with the Parisian house. Alongside, octagenarian Venetian artist Fabrizio Plessi has reinterpreted the Lady Dior handbag in shimmering gold mosaic – now on display at Dior’s Venice store.

Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia hosts artist Katharina Grosse

Katharina Grosse at Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia

Installation view Katharina Grosse ‘Apollo, Apollo’ at Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Fondation Louis Vuitton)

Part of the Biennale’s official roster of events, ‘Apollo, Apollo’, a new exhibition by German artist Katharina Grosse takes over the Venice outpost of Fondation Louis Vuitton (the ‘multi-dimensional’ works were created specifically for the space, the house reports). Comprising a vast swathe of metallic mesh fabric, printed with images of the artist’s hands, the exhibition seeks to ‘depict a moment between the artist’s body and the coloured material, blurred in the act of creating’, as the notes describe. Reflection – in part inspired by Venice’s waterways – is also central to the work, which Grosse says ‘oscillates between surface, texture, image and object’. Those wandering the city will also find refurbished Louis Vuitton newspaper kiosks across Venice – reimagined as pop-up stores selling the house’s book offering – part of their own ongoing support for the Venetian Heritage Foundation (a dinner earlier in the week also celebrated the upcoming renovation of Ca’d’Oro Museum). 

Katharina Grosse ‘Apollo, Apollo’ runs at Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia, until November 27, 2022.

Valentino sponsors the Italian Pavilion

Sewing machines at the Italian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale

Gian Maria Tosatti, ’Storia della Notte e Destino delle Comete’. 

(Image credit: Courtesy DGCC – MiC)

Back in July of 2021, Pierpaolo Piccioli presented his couture collection for Valentino at Venice’s Le Gaggiandre all'Arsenale; this year, the designer – alongside house CEO Jacopo Venturini – will support the Italian Pavilion, housed at the nearby Tese delle Vergini also in the former Venetian shipyards. Gian Maria Tosatti is this year’s artist to represent the country with an exhibit titled ‘Storia della Notte e Destino delle Comet’ (‘History of the Night and Destiny of Comets’), curated by Eugenio Viola, transforming the vast abandoned space into a haunting exploration of Italian industry in decline. The house says that it went beyond a typical artist-sponsor relationship, with Piccioli becoming an avid collaborator, uniting with Tosatti ‘in a dialogue of inspirations that derives from a shared curiosity and values they strive for: a common quest of building a multi-vocal community; an ongoing search for ever-changing, unexpected expressions of artistic sensibility and creativity, in every shape and forms.’

The Italian Pavilion runs at Tese delle Vergini in Arsenale, Venice until 27 November 2022.

Diesel unites with Tom of Finland Foundation for an erotically-charged exhibition

Installation view of Tom of Finland Foundation, with artworks on white wall

‘AllTogether’ by Tom of Finland Foundation and The Community supported by Diesel at Studio Cannaregio

(Image credit: press)

A new exhibition from the Tom of Finland Foundation – preserving the legacy of its artistic namesake, known for his liberated, homoerotic illustrations – sees its Los Angeles collection, which spans over 13,000 objects and works, displayed outside the country for the first time. Supported by Italian label Diesel and its creative director Glenn Martens, and curated alongside Paris gallery The Community, ‘AllTogether’ places Tom of Finland’s work alongside the erotic artists who came before and after – from the 1940s to present day. Longtime foundation president Durk Dehner says the idea is to capture the unique feeling of entering Tom House, the Los Angeles address that Finland-born Tom (born Touko Laaksonen) called home for the last years of his life, and has since hosted residencies for queer artists from around the world.

‘At the foundation we promote the present and future, and protect the past,’ Dehner told Wallpaper*. ‘That’s really what creates community and family, because family isn’t just who’s alive today – it’s where you come from, all the people came before.’

‘AllTogether’ by Tom of Finland Foundation and The Community supported by Diesel runs at Studio Cannaregio, Venice until 26 June, 2022. 

Fondazione Prada explores the human brain in a new exhibition

See fashion’s finest moments at the 59th Venice Biennale

’Human Brains’ at Fondazione Prada Venezia.

(Image credit: Marco Cappelletti)

Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli – Fondazione Prada’s presidents – joined an international group of guests for the opening of ‘Human Brains: It Begins with an Idea’ at Ca' Corner della Regina (the Fondazione’s Venice location). Open for the length of the Biennale, the intriguing exhibition is the result of several years of investigative work by the Fondazione, ‘driven by a deep interest to understand the human brain, the complexity of its functions, and its centrality to human history’, created alongside a scientific board drawn from around the world, from neurologists to philosophers. Writings, objects, projections and more make up the multidisciplinary exhibition, navigating ‘what is known and unknown in our understanding of the human brain’. Says Miuccia Prada: ‘We are convinced that talking about the human brain means talking about the human being. Focusing on the uniqueness of our brain helps us understand the influence that scientific research has in our lives and the broader progress of culture.’

‘Human Brains: It Begins with an Idea’ runs at Ca' Corner della Regina, Venice until 27 November 2022.

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*. Having previously held roles at 10, 10 Men and AnOther magazines, he joined the team in 2022. His work has a particular focus on the moments where fashion and style intersect with other creative disciplines – among them art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and profiling the industry’s leading figures and brands.