We caught up with Donna Karan after Art Basel Miami to discuss art, fashion and her new book, Stephan Weiss: Connecting the Dots, honoring her late husband, artist Stephan Weiss.
1. Did you have a nice time at Art Basel Miami? How was your book signing?
I had the most amazing time at Art Basel. Seeing all the artistic brilliance and overwhelming amount of sheer creativity in every dimension was beyond inspiring. My book signing at the Delano pool was fabulous. It was truly about “connecting the dots” as it was a collaborative effort with ACRIA to connect art, healthcare and culture. The fact that we could soak up the sun in the process made it all the more fun.
2. Were you able to see any of the art while you were there –anything you loved?
I loved it all, but my favorite was the street art exhibition in Wynwood, an industrial area just outside of the Design District. It’s covered with graffiti art and home to some of the best galleries in Miami. I love art that comes from and reflects a community, which is what street art does. It connects art and culture from a very unique and personal point of view. Artist Peter Tunney was my tour guide for most of the weekend. Peter, David Belle and I also hit the streets to explore Peter’s Gratitude Project. The experience was playful and childlike. As a designer, it’s important for me to tap into that side of myself.
3. Where does ‘Connecting the Dots’ from the title of your book, Stephan Weiss: Connecting the Dots, come from?
Stephan’s art was based on the string theory of modern physics. Stephan would throw dots on a page and quickly and randomly connect them and see the form and energy that emerged. He would then turn it into everything from paintings to large scale sculpture. In his life, Stephan was all about making connections – his art, his family, his business. For example, he designed and sculpted the bottles of my perfume, approaching each like a work of art which also functioned.
4. How has art played a role in your life? Has it always had a presence or has its role developed as you’ve grown – personally, professionally, etc.?
I’ve always been obsessed with art and artists. My husband, of course, was an artist, but I also have a long history of professional collaborations with artists, from my first collaboration with Robert Lee Morris to my more recent one with Haitian artist Philippe Dodard. Creativity inspires me enormously. It nourishes my soul and is also a healing experience. I’m refuelled and have more to give as a creative person.
5. The age old question, ‘Is fashion art?’ Where do you stand on the line between fashion as art, art as fashion, etc.?
Fashion is an artistic expression. It holds all the elements of art – color, texture, sculptural shape and a vision that brings it all together. Yet it’s different from pure art in the sense it has to function on a body and in a lifestyle. Like art, fashion is inspired by and reflects the life and times it lives in. You can’t separate the two.
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