Interior design and art curatorial guru Maria Brito has long been intrigued by the idea of wearable art. For this year’s Frieze New York, Brito collaborated with artists Eric Parker, Kenny Scharf, and Carlos Rolon/DZINE to design three high-end, printed-acrylic handbags; each is a testament to its respective designer’s artistic aesthetic.
Brito began the project out of her own dissatisfaction with the market for wearable art: “The idea to print on acrylic clutches came to me when I was looking at several art collaborations in the market and nothing really struck a chord. Some of them were very cool and ingenious, but nothing I would wear myself.”
“I looked at what my friends and my clients were wearing, and I understood there was a real opportunity here to create something cool that actually looks like real art,” she explains. “I want the women who get these bags to actually feel proud that they are carrying a true limited-edition piece of art in their hands—something that went through several iterations of revision, and required the use of museum-quality technology, and the collaborative effort of these artists and myself to come up with the perfect product.”
When it came to choosing artists to work with, Brito already had three already in mind: Erik Parker, whom she’d met at a gallery and whose art served as the inspiration for the bag’s form; Kenny Scharf, whose pieces she keeps in her personal collection; and Carlos “Dzine” Rolon, a friend whose inventive nail art got significant press last year.
For Rolon, getting involved didn’t require much deliberation; wearable art was already on his radar. “Some things are just meant to be enjoyed visually and with a purpose,” he tells us.
Parker’s intent, though, wasn’t about fashion, “For me, the most interesting aspect of this collaboration was seeing the original painting take on another life. One that is utilitarian.” Both artists’ prints were culled from prior showings at the Paul Kasmin Gallery, chosen with the fluidity and design of the acrylic clutch in mind.
Brito planned on releasing the clutches later this year, but they caught the eye of the Frieze curators, so the pieces will be on sale at the Frieze Art Fair in New York this week, courtesy of Kirna Zabete. Brito and the artists have produced a mere 20 handbags in each design, so the collection is limited edition. If you aren’t going to Frieze, however, you can still purchase the bags online via Kirna Zabete.