In a bid to reach the luxury fashion-loving art denizen, Matchesfashion.com is bringing a temporary townhouse to L.A.’s inaugural Frieze Art Fair, Feb. 15 to 17.
Modeled after the e-commerce business’ 5 Carlos Place physical retail extension that opened in London’s Mayfair last year, the space at L.A.’s Paramount Studios will host several “In Residence” programs with tastemakers to engage clientele, who can also shop an edit of men’s and women’s fashion in private suites just steps from the fair’s art offerings.
The spot will be located in the film studio’s New York backlot, alongside several other magazine, nonprofit and restaurant pop-ups. Matchesfashion has taken over three spaces on the Greenwich Village-inspired set with broadcasting capabilities to push out programming on the brand’s web site, social channels and YouTube channel, including bringing a bit of London Fashion Week to L.A. on Feb. 15, when London designer Symonds Pearmain’s presentation at 5 Carlos Place will be brought live to the Frieze audience.
Matchesfashion chief executive officer Ulric Jerome sees the experiential brick-and-mortar model as central to growth in the U.S. market, which as of last year became the retailer’s largest in the world by revenue, growing by 54 percent year over year. Sustained growth in the U.S. is expected to continue, he said, adding that full 2018 results will come in April.
“What we have tried to do is evolve the business into a luxury lifestyle destination, and to be at a cultural crossroads that includes fashion, art, music and culinary experience because we believe it’s the link with the audience we want to reach,” he told WWD.
The idea to take Carlos Place on the road came from customer feedback, he said, and is an evolution of U.S. “In Residence” programs that the e-tailer has held in rented homes and spaces in L.A., San Francisco and New York over the last few years, inviting guests to come in and experience programming over the course of several days, from panels with costume designers to yoga classes.
‘After the initial three weeks of events, we reached 44 million people through online, social channels and shares. People came and became ambassadors. It was so visual, almost everyone who attended was posting. This is where the reach became a multiplier,” explained Jerome. “It’s having access to exclusive content in an inclusive way. Inclusive to bring everyone on board but exclusive in terms of the edit. It was authentic and people used social media to embrace it, which led to brand awareness, drove the brand profile of our business, revenue and sales.”
That success led to the opening of 5 Carlos Place in London, where Matches has, since opening in September, hosted 65 events, 27 design installations, 20 podcasts and 15 livestreams, the executive added, noting that programming has always crossed over into the art world, “because we understand the intersection of luxury fashion and art.”
Examples include events with the Phillips auction house ahead of a midcentury sale, and with the colorful British artist John Booth, who has worked with Fendi.
At the Matches activation at Frieze L.A., 22 events will span five days, featuring panels and conversations with tattoo-artist-to-the-stars Dr. Woo; fashionista, filmmaker and sexpert Liz Goldwyn with curator Essence Harden and photographer Genevieve Gaignard; jewelry designer Daniela Villegas with florist Eric Buterbaugh; stylist Cher Coulter with actress Bel Powley and Rodarte designer Kate Mulleavy, music by Suki Waterhouse and more.
Frieze L.A.’s ties to fashion run deep. The executive director Bettina Korek, one of the L.A. art world’s brightest young stars, is a lifelong friend of Entireworld and former Band of Outsiders designer Scott Sternberg, regularly turns up for fashion events hosted by Rodarte, Bottega Veneta and other brands, and has written art guides for Tory Daily, Harper’s Bazaar and other style publications.
Frieze L.A. includes 70 gallery booths in a Kulapat Yantrasast-designed tent, as well as site-specific artworks throughout the New York backlot and talks in Paramount’s Sherry Lansing Theatre. Public and private happenings are planned around L.A. at art galleries, museums, restaurants and bars, and artists’ studios. The 52-person host committee includes Francois-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek Pinault, along with Tobey Maguire and Serena Williams, philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, collector Beth Rudin DeWoody and MOCA director Klaus Biesenbach. Organizers are hoping the fair fares better than the last one held at Paramount — Paris Photo Los Angeles was canceled in 2016 after three years because of lagging gallery sales.
The Frieze townhouse by Matches is just one of several fashion-related events planned around the art fair, which is majority-owned by Endeavor, parent company of Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor-IMG. Alexandre Arnault is hosting a pop-up installation to launch LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Rimowa’s collaboration with L.A. artist Alex Israel; the L.A. outpost of Paris boutique L’Eclaireur is having an aperitivo to unveil “Stacks” by Ben Medansky; Maxfield L.A. is displaying “Chairs in Prouve,” an exhibition of vintage chairs from owner Tommy Perse’s personal collection; designer Rosetta Getty will be in conversation with female artists at NeueHouse Hollywood, and Goldwyn is hosting a dinner at Gracias Madre to celebrate her partnership with Matches.
The Matches activation is the first of a multipronged approach to engaging the art world, which will include an ongoing partnership with Frieze in New York and London, a partnership with The Serpentine in June and The Cultivist on Art Basel-related projects.