The Missoni creative director had an idea for animating the store and engaging customers: Surface Conversion, which launches tonight in the 8,300-square-foot unit. Missoni hopes to cross-pollinate disciplines such as visual art, film, architecture, design, literature and poetry with fashion. Every three months the work of a new artist will be featured. Missoni hopes the works will start conversations and foster the idea of sharing and supporting contemporary art.
“Every time I would come to New York and see the window and location of that store, it became very clear that it could be [used] for another important thing,” Missoni said. “I thought maybe I should give artists a chance to show their work. I finally made it happen.”
Missoni is asking artists to develop site-specific projects with the possibility of integrating artworks into every corner of the store. There will be an emphasis on the store windows, but the project’s goal is to transform the scale of the store into a creative stage and platform for art, fashion and culture to flow freely.
“It will still be a fashion store, of course, but I’ll give artists the chance to use the space inside and the window,” Missoni said. “The intention is to develop a series of happenings that can foster a dialogue with the street because the space is open and you can see inside.”
The project begins with Servane Mary, who works with appropriated images of women from the Forties through the Seventies. Some of the women she considers heroes, and others antiheroes or misunderstood or misrepresented tragic figures. “Eldridge” is an image of a young cowgirl seen through curved glass.
“Her work is a reflection of women,” Missoni said. “Also, it’s interesting because she has a band she plays in, the Cornichons, who will give a live performance tonight. This gives you an idea of the kind of shop I want to this to be.”
Missoni said she’s placing no restrictions on the artists. “I’ll talk to them and we’ll decide together that the project is,” she said. “I have to go on and sell merchandise. If I don’t sell the merchandise I will never be able to create the opportunity. This is something that will really interest my customers. It’s also a chance for some downtown artists to come and show uptown. This is the first experiment. The store has something special. It’s the prefect place and size.”