Art and fashion unite at Venice Biennale

It wasn’t just the art world that descended on Venice and its labyrinthine canals and streets last week, the fashion world too was up front and centre at the opening of the city's 58th Biennale (11 May – 24 November). Here we present our standout unions from the art and fashion worlds – in opulent Grand Canal-facing Palazzos, gallery spaces and Biennale pavilions – located around the legendary lagoon city.

Espace Louis Vuitton Philippe Parreno

(Image credit: Andrea Rossetti)

Espace Louis Vuitton and Philippe Parreno: French artist Philippe Parreno views the exhibition spaces he shows in as an architectural instrument and a polyphonic entity. In recent years, he has worked with scientists Jean-Baptiste Boulé and Nicolas Desprat and used the activity of living organisms housed in a bioreactor to trigger sequences of movement within an exhibition setting. Part of the collateral events of the Biennale, ‘Elsewhen’ at Espace Louis Vuitton, runs as part of the Fondation Louis Vuitton “Hors-les- murs” programme. The exhibition focuses on the enduring development of microorganisms, with walls of the space swathed in phosphorescent yellow wallpaper patterned with black irises and a luminous marquee floating above a vertical mechanical mirrored shutter. A digital programme is used to control these different elements, and pulses of air, flashes of light and synthetically engineered sounds reflect the reactions of organisms within Parreno's bioreactor programme. Philippe Parreno ‘Elsewhen’ is on view at Espace Louis Vuitton, Venezia until 24 November 2019. Installation view of of Philippe Parreno: Elsewhen, Espace Louis Vuitton, Venezia, 2019

Gucci and the Italian Pavilion

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani)

Gucci and the Italian Pavilion: Gucci creative director Alessando Michele uses a host of encyclopedic references in his designs to offer a postmodern vision of contemporary life. Michele shares the same curiosity around modern living as the curator Milovan Farronato - who for this year’s Italian Pavilion has bought together Enrico David, Chiara Fumai and Liliana Moro, three contemporary artists whose works explore the connection between past and present. Gucci is the main sponsor of the pavilion, which is characterised by maze-like architectural scenography. Its title title, ‘Neither Nor: The Challenge to the Labyrinth’ is based on a a 1962 essay by Italo Calvino, written to support readers struggling through the labyrinthine paths of the modern world. Courtesy of DGAAP-MiBAC

MSGM and Heterotopia

(Image credit: Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti.)

MSGM and ‘Heterotopia I': In recent seasons, MSGM founder Massimo Giorgetti has celebrated the heritage of his brand’s home city Milan with foulard silks emblazoned with its cultural hotspots like the Duomo and Bar Basso. For the brand’s A/W 2019 women's collection, Giorgetti paid homage to Flash Art, the Milan-based bimonthly magazine dedicated to contemporary art. The publication was founded in Rome in 1967 by Giancarlo Politi before relocating in 1971.

Venice Biennale marks the opening of Peter Halley’s ‘Heterotopia I', an installation curated by Politi and supported by MSGM, held at the Academy of Fine Art’s 48-m long exhibition space in one of the city’s historic salt warehouses, Magazzini del Sale. It features eight interconnected rooms that employ digitally printed wall murals, which create a ‘heterotopia'. This is defined by Foucault as a diferentiated, bordered space created for a special purpose that both mirrors and defines itself as separate from everyday spaces. Four artists worked with Halley on the imagined space: Lauren Clay, Andrew Kuo, RM Fischer and Elena Sorokina. Peter Halley, ‘Heterotopia I.' Installation view at Magazzini del sale. Courtesy of the artist and Flash Art, Milan. 

Dior and ‘The Tiepolo Ball

(Image credit: Pierre Mouton)

Dior and ‘The Tiepolo Ball’: In his autobiography, Christian Dior described the famed 1951 ‘Ball of the Century’ in Venice, housed inside the reception rooms and ballroom of the 17th century Palazzo Labia  as ‘the most marvellous spectacle that I have ever seen or will ever see.’ One of the palace's three facades opens onto the Grand Canal, and the start of the Charles de Beistegui-hosted soirée was signalled when Dior and Salvador Dalí arrived at the party with giants in co-designed black and white costumes.

Lucky for us, Dior offered new insight into the famed party last Saturday, when guests festooned in tulle, baroque flounces and Venetian masks, arrived in Riva speedboats at the renowned palace to attend, ‘The Tiepolo Ball’. The lavish party was hosted by artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri and the Venetian Heritage Foundation, to mark the opening of the Venice Biennale. The sumptuous event also nodded to the Venetian  painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, who painted Roccoco frescoes on the walls of the Palazzo's ballroom. It featured resplendent dining settings, with tablecloths provided by Venetian textile brand Fortuny and surfaces swathed in blooms. ‘Parties like that are genuine works of art,' Dior once said. We're sure he'd say the same about this glamorous get- together too.

Brigitte Niedermair: Me and Fashion

(Image credit: courtesy Brigitte Niedermair)

Brigitte Niedermair: Me and Fashion 1996-2018’: ‘I want to reach eternity with my images,’ Brigitte Niedermair told Wallpaper* in our March issue (W*240). The Merano-based photographer is renowned for her unique tableaus and visuals which juxtapose subjects and genres, and shoots her work on a 4x5 large-format camera. ‘Brigitte Niedermair: Me and Fashion 1996-2018’, on view at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo, celebrates over two decades of Niedermair’s fashion photography, and includes examples of her longstanding creative collaboration with Wallpaper* fashion content director Isabelle Kountoure. For the showcase, the photographer has hung more than 30 images, which include a shapely pear sheathed in fishnet tights and a lamb’s head suspended on a fluffy stiletto, on the resplendent 17th and 18th century walls of the palace. The images interplay with the baroque decoration of the space, sparking conversation around subject and environment. ‘Brigitte Niedermair: Me and Fashion 1996-2018’ is on view until 24 November. Image courtesy Brigitte Niedermair

Virgil Abloh and Carpenters Workshop

(Image credit: Virgil Abloh)

Virgil Abloh and Carpenters Workshop Gallery: ‘DYSFUNCTIONAL’ the show marking Carpenters Workshop’s debut at Venice Biennale, brings 14 of its designers to the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro. The exhibition muses on the nature of design and its place within the art world, and features works which respond to Venice. Creative polymath Virgil Abloh is well versed in shirking categorisation. The founder of fashion brand Off-White, is also at the creative helm of Louis Vuitton’s menswear, and the trained architect is a DJ, furniture designer, and even the creative advisor for sustainable design at Evian. For ‘DYSFUNCTIONAL’, he has created ‘Alaska Alaska Acqua Alta' in collaboration with his design agent Aurélie Julien. This culminates as a  series of wonky polished bronze furniture pieces which appear to sink into the ground, and reference the city’s high tide. ‘DYSFUNCTIONAL’ is on view until  24 November