WARHOL’S FASHION MOMENT
Byline: Holly Haber
DALLAS — Andy Warhol’s art is back on the museum scene after a long hiatus, so it’s only natural that some of his Pop Art images would also turn up on clothing.
A Warhol retrospective is running now through April 1 at the Tate Modern in London and will also be mounted in Los Angeles at the Museum of Contemporary Art from May 25 to Aug. 18. It is the first major Warhol show since 1988. The artist died in 1987.
The Los Angeles exhibit and corollary publicity are expected to help spark interest in a line of licensed clothing that features some of Warhol’s memorable and lesser-known graphics worked into prints and emblems on T-shirts, camisoles and dresses in contemporary silhouettes.
The label is called Andy Warhol by Cultura. Cultura, the licensee, is an edgy collection owned by Sam H. in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and manufactured in Florence, Italy. Cultura’s U.S. distributor is Lighthouse Apparel Group in New York, which also imports private label T-shirts and a dress collection called Ottitude, all made in the same factory in Florence.
“There is a tremendous amount of motion around Warhol and Pop Art in general right now,” said Robert Rackear, Lighthouse principal.
Images used in the Warhol line include a red and white “Glass — Handle with Care” label, a diagram of dance-step footprints and portraits of Mao Tse-tung and Jackie O.
Cultura’s primary line, as well as its Warhol collection, has a contemporary look and fit. The T-shirts, skirts and dresses feature such trendy elements as crinkled and sheer fabrics, whipstitched trim, pleating, patchwork and shredded edges. The line wholesales from $26 for a T-shirt to $78 for a dress.
“The great thing about Cultura is that they are not using the obvious imagery,” said Martin Cribbs, director of licensing at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in New York. “We have moved away from that because people automatically associate it with being novelty.”
The foundation has thousands of images at its disposal and counts about 30 licensees for a variety of Warhol products, including jewelry, handbags, crystal-studded cashmere and porcelain tableware, Cribbs said. Proceeds support the organization’s primary mission to fund the creative and visual arts community. Last year, it raised $5 million.
Warhol’s work and commentary have become ingrained in American culture, Cribbs said. The artist’s films from the Sixties are obvious precursors of today’s music videos, and even the current advertising campaign for Target stores reflects the style of Pop Art.
“We find that Andy’s influence is everywhere, and it does resonate with young people,” Cribbs said.
Rackear declined to predict first-year sales of the Warhol offshoot, noting that the first showings are taking place before the buzz grows around the Warhol show in Los Angeles. Cultura’s main collection brings in $2.5 million in sales annually to about 250 specialty stores, he said. The first shipments are slated for April 1.
Cultura’s Warhol line was picked up by 10 stores when it was shown at the Dallas January market at the International Apparel Mart, according to Mark Meyers, Cultura’s sales representative.
“It’s obviously for a store with an eclectic attitude,” Meyers said. “This is a store with a real flair for fashion and a customer who has an appreciation for an artistic flair.”