Marriage of art and luxury: Talk of the town

Luxury companies are strategically forming deep links with the arts, resulting in authentically rooted alliances that fuel growth on a whole new level. And it is their strategic use of artist collaborations that have helped them develop an atmosphere of artistic relevance and admiration. Gaurav Bhatia, former MD of Sotheby’s, argues why the marriage of art and luxury is a gloriously perfect relationship, bolstered by the belief systems and palette preferences of luxury-brand customers who are also art enthusiasts. 

Brand connect and depth is achieved by combining art with luxury to create a sustainable business. This meticulously crafted setting is frequently used as the backdrop for high-end products. Luxury fashion houses have traditionally worked with artists, and studies have shown that associating with art shows commercial success. Ex MD Sotheby’s Gaurav Bhatia explains, “True Luxury is art. It tells a story. Luxury brands often dig into art history or work with contemporary artists to make exciting innovations and this forms some great storytelling, making the brand soulful and the product even more desirable. What you get is not just a handbag, but a piece of art.”

Because art is valued for its uniqueness and high pricing which reflects the owner’s taste (and status), it has nearly always been seen as a luxury. Art and artists are valued not just for their ‘market worth,’ but also for their ‘symbolic and artistic value.’ The intersection of art and luxury is becoming more visible in both the luxury apparel and especially accessories markets. Says Bhatia, who has worked with luxury brands from his days at LVMH and Sotheby’s India, “Many brands that seek to create something unique or timeless have traditionally looked to the art world for inspiration. Louis Vuitton is known to be the pioneer in Art and collaborated with artists from Stephen Sprouse to Takashi Murakami and many more.” As the movement gains traction, some major fashion labels have enlisted the services of street artists to advertise their businesses.

Among the premium fashion houses that are investing in the art are Hermes, Gucci, and Prada among others. “Not only do these brands collect valuable contemporary art and some like LVMH even have the Louis Vuitton Foundation, they also commission works from both emerging and known artists, in the spirit of authenticity and dedication to the arts,” states Gaurav Bhatia, former MD of Sotheby’s.

For instance, Prada and Louis Vuitton have taken it a step further, establishing Fondazione Prada in Milan and Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, both of which are full-fledged art galleries.

The art and luxury expert and Ex MD Sotheby’s Gaurav Bhatia informs, “Prada’s personal collection includes works by Jeff Koons and William N. Copley, to name a few. The firm has also commissioned and produced works by artists such as Anish Kapoor and Thomas Demand, while the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s private collection includes Henri Matisse’s ‘Nu bleu aux bas verts’ and Andy Warhol’s ‘Ladies and Gentlemen.’ You could almost compare the two premium fashion firms to the Medici family of Renaissance Florence – both recognize the huge power that art, and culture in general, can have in a commercial and even political environment.”

These corporations appear to be shifting their brand image from that of the transitory – creating apparel and accessories and interpreting style and trends – to that of cultural definers, which is far more lasting and crucial.

Read more on Gaurav Bhatia Biography

These multinational luxury conglomerates strive to create uniqueness in an ever-burgeoning market of products online and offline, high-level creativity and customization remain the single most profound way to establish significance, scarcity, and exclusivity. Bhatia elaborates from his two-decade-long experience in the art and luxury industry that this collaboration of the world’s most prestigious businesses with the arts isn’t coerced in any way. “It is the result of natural selection. A  fantastic combination of two ideas that creates a certain magic.” And as a result, you get products with quality in true artisanal design.

Luxury goods are, in essence, at the pinnacle of the retail world – in value and often regarded as art. Where they often get their inspiration from is obvious. Catapulting them often to the high echelons of ‘art’ and collectibles, often fetching high pricing in secondary markets and at auction.

 

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