Alice + Olivia x Basquiat for CFDA Initiative

alice + olivia basquiat Ballgown

Stacey Bendet, founder and creative director of Alice + Olivia, channeled the powerful and provocative work of the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat for a capsule collection to benefit the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s young talent initiative.

Basquiat, who started as a graffiti artist – Samo was his tag – began painting in the 1980s. His sketches featured scrawled texts, stick figures, found bits of writing and stream-of-consciousness rants. Alice + Olivia debuted the capsule collection with its Resort 2017 range and includes several of Basquiat’s iconic motifs such as the ubiquitous three-pointed crown, graffiti-art and scribbled texts.

Bendet said: “Jean-Michel Basquiat is one of my favorite artists. This partnership is exciting for me as it is very reflective of my brand and our continued collaboration with artists. It is also wonderful to be able to raise funds for the CFDA and support their ongoing initiatives within our industry that develop new talent.”

In April of last year, Bendet kicked off her first artist collection by partnering with Spanish-American painter Domingo Zapata.

The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat opened the entire archive to Bendet and her team. “I picked out the ‘works’ that resonated visually. We worked off actual art works. I wanted them to feel 3D or like they were painted on canvas. For ball gown skirts, I wanted you to feel the whole painting, so we beaded and embroidered parts of the image.”

It is abundantly clear that several of the pieces draw direct inspiration from Basquiat’s work...

  • The ball gown skirt is based on “Notary,” a 1983 painting that references Pluto and Greek mythology
  • Bendet used elements of “Panel of Experts,” (1982) on a black slip dress, which features the artist’s three-pointed crown, a duck, volcano, gun and fighting cartoons. The name Madonna, the pop star who was his girlfriend, is crossed out
  • A bowling bag based on “Ascent,” (1983) captures the painting’s bright blue background.
  • A black tote inspired by “Beat Bop,” a hip-hop single with a record cover designed by Basquiat. Bendet called it “a 10-minute sparring match with other graffiti artists”

Also included in the capsule collection is a multi-colored striped dress, leather jacket, shoes and jeans, which are inscribed with elements from Basquiat’s notebooks and other works. A sweater features Basquiat’s signature yellow crown.

“It is also wonderful to be able to raise funds for the CFDA and support their ongoing initiatives within our industry that develop new talent,” Bendet said. Fifty-percent of proceeds from a selection of the collection will benefit the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Many of the items will be exclusive to Alice + Olivia stores and beginning in November 2016. The collection will also be sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and other specialty stores.

What are your thoughts on the Alice + Olivia x Basquiat collection?