L’Wren Scott’s Living Canvas
Fashion and art often find each other, as they did last night at the Neue Gallery New York, where L’Wren Scott sat down with longtime pal Rachel Feinstein to discuss her Gustav Klimt-inspired Fall ’13 collection. The museum, which welcomed the likes of Feinstein’s husband John Currin, and actress Ellen Barkin for the affair, acquired one of the twentieth century Austrian artist’s most famous works, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907), back in 2006. Created during his golden phase, the painting was the primary muse for Scott’s decadent Fall looks, and it served as the backdrop for the Q&A. Having first discovered Klimt when she visited Paris’ Musée d’Orsay in her teens, Scott explained that her love of his work, “obsession with his golden period” and “longtime love of gold,” were the starting points for her collection. And indeed, while examining Scott’s gilded Fall ’13 designs, four of which were displayed in the front of the room, the connection was clear.
Scott offered that Klimt’s life—or, more specifically, the women in his life—were equally as inspiring as his art. In particular, she referenced Adele Bloch Bauer (a wealthy socialite and one of his foremost patrons), and his supposed lover, the bohemian fashion designer Emilie Flöge. “She was very well known for her little caplets, and she used to embellish them beautifully with geometric designs and inspirations from ancient Egyptian and Byzantine times. That’s how Klimt started doing his geometric patterns,” said Scott. One such caplet topped a black and gold sequined evening gown that hugged a mannequin to her left.
Scott and Feinstein also touched on the age-old question of is fashion art? (“[fashion] is an artistic craft,” Scott seemed to resolve after explaining the industry’s fast-paced production cycle), as well as Klimt’s scandalous tendencies (he allegedly did several pornographic drawings, and used to wear an open caftan with nothing underneath—a practice, Scott laughed, that “led to fourteen illegitimate children”), and his approach to fashion in his work. “He always painted women with a much stricter silhouette. That wasn’t actually how women wore their clothes—they were much looser…but he wanted to see the female form,” said the designer. Scott’s own hyper-feminine shapes, it should be noted, are not dissimilar to Klimt’s expressions.
To close the talk, Feinstein asked Scott whether she identified with the aristocratic Bloch-Bauer, or the free-spirited Flöge. “I’m definitely not in the aristocratic set, and I definitely have a bohemian side to me,” said Scott, who was donned one of her own Fall frocks. Perhaps it was just the dress, but as she sat perched in front of Klimt’s painting, Scott bore an uncanny resemblance to Bloch-Bauer, who stared out at the audience from her gilded canvas. When asked whether she saw the similarity, Scott gasped. “Oh my God, no!” she told Style.com. “I’m totally in awe of her.”