More than marketing, Catherine Quin’s fashion show and pop-up store during next month’s America’s Cup in Bermuda will underscore the importance of art in her work and add to the dynamism taking hold on the island where she was born.
Inspired by Robert Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham, she has commissioned local artists from the Bermuda Biennale to create an installation on the main marina where all the super yachts will be docked at the Hamilton Princess. On the waterfront at what will be the official America’s Cup Hotel, they will create reflective, abstract Stonehenge-style blocks that models will walk around before standing in formation for 20 minutes or so. The 150 guests will then meander amidst the art, enjoying Champagne and taking a closer look at what will be Quin’s first pre-fall collection at the June 12 event.
Locals ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s will model Quin’s designs “to be more reflective of the real woman not just the 18-year-old stick model,” she said. “As good as it is to do fashion weeks, and I’m not going to stop doing that, it’s important to go where your clients are and have fun, exciting and dynamic experiences which entertain and immerse them. And hopefully also raises awareness of things like climate change and other issues while empowering women of different age ranges who are your market.”
A project of this scope is a new challenge for Quin though she has worked closely with artists in the past and has a number of friends who are artists, installation artists and curators at Ballroom Marfa and LACMA. “I’ve been moving a lot in art world circles. I went to Marfa Texas in December, and I’ve made a pilgrimage to see Luis Barragán’s house and studio in Mexico. I’ve really been inspired by site-specific art and Donald Judd in particular. He is one of my all-time heroes for minimalism and all of the minimalist principles that he designs by are very much imbued in my view of what design should be.”
Racing starts for the Louis Vuitton-sponsored event with the qualifiers on May 26, with the top challenger facing the defending champions Oracle Team USA in the 35th America’s Cup Match June 17. They will be competing for the oldest trophy in international sports, dating back to 1851. Having designed items that are “a bit more casual and something that you could wear on a yacht in the height of summer,” Quin said the range will retail from $250 to $1,500 and it will be sold in the pop-up store and on her site.
The show’s setting, the Hamilton Princess, is also all about art thanks to Bermudian brothers Alexander and Andrew Green who bought the property a few years ago and completed a $100 million renovation. Their extensive art collection — including works by Andy Warhol, Banksy, Ai Weiwei, Takashi Murakami, Liu Ye, Henri Matisse, Keith Haring, Josef Albers and Damien Hirst — is featured throughout the property. Quin said her show will be near a Yayoi Kusama pumpkin and hefty KAWS sculpture. “We’re hoping that from this, as an island, we’ll be able to do more art-focused events.…There is a little bit of an old-fashioned society here with a lot of 60- and 70-year-old men, who have sort of been running the show. There is a newer generation in their 30s and 40s who want to make Bermuda more of a cultural and aspirational country, and a destination for tourists.”
Quin made the point that Alexander Calder’s kinetic sculpture has been a huge tenet of her label in relation to movement, fluidity and the idea that women are in the world living their lives. “They’re not static and it’s important to design with that in mind,” she said. Quin herself worked as a corporate lawyer before starting her own collection about two and a half years ago. Before doing so, she spent six months at Vena Cava in Los Angeles learning about sales, marketing and operations while they were developing a diffusion collection.
The waterfront location is also meant to remind guests of the importance of environmentalism. Quin said, “In Bermuda, people really value conservation and preserving the environment and history through the planning commission. For the last 400 years, we all have roofs that collect our rain water for tanks.”
But Quin won’t be playing any favorites during the America’s Cup. “I like Team Japan because I love the architecture of Tadao Ando and Japanese design. I like Oracle because Larry Ellison brought the Cup here. I’m British so I like Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing. So if any of those win, I’ll be happy. That’s my diplomatic answer.”