Art meeting fashion is no new idea - Charles Frederick Worth compared himself to Delacroix back in the 1860s, while Elsa 'Schiap' Schiaparelli pulled in the Surrealists to inspire and occasionally collaborate on her witty interwar couture creations - the finest of which will grace the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute come next year (albeit probably excluding the lobster-embroidered frock splattered with very real mayonnaise by Salvador Dali). But Maia Norman's Mother Of Pearl tackles it in a very different way, collaborating with a different contemporary artist each season to reinterpret their work as prints, intarsia knits embroideries and the like across simple, straightforward and refreshingly unpretentious garments. There are no hand-painted, one-off ball-gowns in the Mother Of Pearl collection, and the prints created from the work of Mat Colinshaw, Carsten Holler and Jim Lambie are as likely to grace hi-top leather trainers or cotton t-shirts as they are a silk-crepe evening gown.
Many of those hi-tops and t-shirts were in evidence on Thursday at London's Senkai - as were the artists themselves, as Norman held an intimate dinner for a selection of art and fashion figures in the newly-opened sustainable Japanese restaurant on Regent Street. The Senkai dinner itself was well-timed to coincide with Japan's Culture Day as attendees ran the cultural gamut from artists Mat Collishaw and Paul Fryer, to The Clash's Paul Simenon and wife Serena Rees, to The Telegraph's Fashion Editor Lisa Armstrong and Fashion East Founder Lulu Kennedy (in covetable hibiscus-print Maarten Van Der Ham). Caledonian Queen of Cling Pam Hogg made up the designer numbers dressed in her own designs (a pair of her patchworked leggings also grace the cover of December's British Vogue for December on the seemingly limitless limbs of Gisele).
Norman herself was wrapped in petrol-blue leather and fur alongside Pierre Hardy accessories - the shoe mogul has designed Mother Of Pearl's footwear for the past two seasons. Those collections, for Autumn/Winter 2011 and Spring/Summer 2012 respectively, were collabs with Keith Tyson and Fiona Banner respectively, while for next winter Norman works alongside Fred Tomaselli - whose psychedelic, hyper-decorated wood-panel pieces seem perfect for print. And, as the wife of artists Damien Hirst, if there's one woman artists feel comfortable to entrust their work to, it's Norman. 'We do have to tread lightly and be sensitive about using artists' work… you have to be respectful.' Well said. We'll have to wait until 2012 to see the results of this latest art-fashion fusion...
A selection of garments from Mother Of Pearl's Autumn/Winter 2011 collection is retailed through SHOWstudio Shop