Look 21 in KidSuper‘s spring-summer 2023 collection – a half-realized, elusive portrait on a pink sweater and pale cords – was based on an original painting called Con Artist. It was one of 23 Colm Dillane paintings, which in turn inspired the 23 looks in his KidSuper collection that were auctioned off by Christie’s Lydia Fenet live during his show. As each model walked, the audience had its chance to bid. The big spender was Russ – a close friend of Dillane – who apparently walked away with several paintings including the night’s headline sale, The Girl That Breathes Life Into The Inanimate (Lot and Look 23). After a fierce bidding war, Fenet eventually banged her gavel after Russ’s $210,000 bid went unmatched. In total, the paintings ‘sold’ for $529,000. This was all in itself a piece of performance art designed ingeniously to stretch the boundaries of the fashion show as visual theater. Dillane said afterwards that as he’d prepared for his first on-schedule Paris show, he’d been to some others and had been struck by the divide between audience and subject. “And I was like, how do I get people to interact and participate, and make it an experience. And I had always wanted to do an art show as a fashion show. And thinking about participation in an art show, that’s where the auction idea came from.” The auction was designed to animate the fashion show through artistic intervention. It was clever, fun, and funny. Apart from the clues to the process we were subject to in the names of some of the paintings, Fenet – who is absolutely masterful at extracting serious sums of money with the lightest of rhetorical touches – was apparently representing an auctioneer named Superby’s. We got no indication of her commission. When the final painting – named The Finale – emerged stretched on its frame, there was a hole where the on-canvas face of one of its subjects “should” have been. A model’s painted face loomed through it. Just as Fenet’s gavel went down, the canvas whisked from the frame to reveal itself as the upper layer in her tulle pentimento dress. This show raised many interesting ideas, including the notion of clothing reproduced with original artworks acting as wearable editions of those pieces.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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