The standout moments in fashion at Miami Art and Design Week 2023, from Frank Gehry’s avant-garde handbag collection for Louis Vuitton to Fendi’s collaboration with the esteemed design duo, Bless. One of architect Frank Gehry’s sculptural handbag designs for Louis Vuitton, unveiled at Art Basel Miami Beach.
Commencing last week in the coastal haven synonymous with glamour and style, the high-profile Miami Art and Design Week, encompassing Art Basel Miami Beach 2023 and Design Miami 2023, drew a diverse array of attendees seeking the next big thing (or, indeed, the next significant purchase).
As always, alongside art and design, a plethora of other disciplines made their mark—including food, entertainment, hospitality, beauty, architecture, and fashion, the latter being an industry whose prominence has surged in recent years. This is evident not only in the designer-clad attendees but also in a myriad of events, launches, and collaborations orchestrated by international fashion houses and brands. The 2023 edition was no exception. Here, we highlight the most noteworthy crossover moments at Miami Art and Design Week 2023, including a specially crafted handbag collection designed by Frank Gehry for Louis Vuitton.
Best Fashion Moments of Miami Art and Design Week 2023
Fendi Joins Forces with Cult Design Duo Bless on ‘Backfrontal’ Installation
When the enigmatic design duo Bless—comprising Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag, known for creating provocative objects across various disciplines—was initially approached by Fendi to collaborate on an installation for Design Miami, skepticism abounded. ‘We were not familiar with Fendi, aside from our superficial understanding of the post-Karl Lagerfeld era,’ Heiss told: ‘We couldn’t see why we were being approached, but then we didn’t expect to feel the connections we did upon entering the Fendi world.’
The resulting collaboration, unveiled in Miami this week and spearheaded by Simon Parris of Kim Jones Studio, is titled ‘Backfrontal,’ featuring four double-sided screens crafted by Fendi Casa, accompanied by various other objects conceived by Bless. These include a shearling intarsia blanket, broom handles, and detergent bottles adorned with fur pieces, along with a rendition of Fendi’s Peekaboo bag whimsically reminiscent of a shipping label-stamped parcel. ‘Design—with considerations on functionality, durability, and endurance—is the closest form of art to what I do,’ says Silvia Venturini Fendi, who heads the house’s menswear and accessories collection. ‘It’s increasingly important to engage in a conversation with talents who can contribute to the evolution of Fendi aesthetics beyond commercial boundaries.’
Frank Gehry has maintained a longstanding association with Louis Vuitton.
In 2014, he designed the sweeping Fondation Louis Vuitton gallery in Paris, featuring distinctive transparent glass ‘sails,’ while in 2019, he conceived the equally dramatic Louis Vuitton Maison store in Seoul, South Korea. Now, on the occasion of Art Basel Miami Beach 2023, the architect has unveiled a collection of handbags for Louis Vuitton, each embodying his distinct postmodern design philosophy, complete with unexpected angles and sculptural silhouettes. Set to launch in summer 2024 and divided into four themes—Architecture and Form, Material Exploration, Animals, and Twisted Box, the last inspired by a previous creation for the house’s ‘Celebrating Monogram’ series—the unique designs span a curved top-handle bag in monogram leather, a futuristic style in patchworked transparent plastic, and an array of bags adorned with fish and crocodiles.
Japanese wrestling league Sukeban’s surprising Miami Debut
An unexpected convergence of fashion, design, and art unfolded at what surprisingly became the week’s most anticipated event: an American outing for Sukeban, the Japanese women’s professional wrestling league, which hosted a championship fight in the city on Wednesday evening (December 6, 2023). Following a sold-out fight in New York earlier this year, Sukeban—named after girl gangs of the 1960s and 1970s—presented a Miami edition, including collaborations with fashion designer Olympia Le Tan on the vibrant costumes (inspired by anime heroines), makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench (known for her work with fashion brands like Vivienne Westwood, Thom Browne, and Junya Watanabe), who created custom looks for each wrestler, as well as Marc Newson, who crafted the winner’s belt featuring an enamel plate adorned with illustrations by Ayako Ishiguro. Attended by a diverse audience in town for the art and design weeks, the Sukeban League might well become the industry’s latest obsession.
Massachusetts-born American brand Concepts has been collaborating with Birkenstock for ten years, a milestone celebrated this year as part of Miami Art and Design Week.
This time, the duo collaborated on a rainbow-hued take on Birkenstock’s cult Arizona two-strap sandal. The colorful collection comprises four shades—pink, mauve, lime green, and faded orange—used across a cowhide version of the signature sandal. The bold palette is said to be inspired by Miami’s art deco heritage, an architectural style prevalent throughout the beachside city, while the collection was celebrated with a special event at the newly opened Birkenstock store in Miami’s Design District (where the collection can be purchased, alongside on 1774.com and cncpts.com). ‘Concepts has a rich history in Miami product storytelling. We found that art, design, and fashion share parallels with the times of art deco,’ says Concepts CEO Tarek Hassan. ‘We are thrilled to partner with Birkenstock on a capsule around this week’s moment in Miami.