With the explosive nature of the resurgence of interest in 1960’s pop art, it can be hard to put a truly original spin on a long-established style. Not so with Australian visual artist Ben Frost (also known by his social media handle, BenFrostisDead), who draws principal inspiration from one of pop art’s most famed names: Roy Lichtenstein. The imagery is familiar: the comic strip-like scenes, often of a damsel in distress with a comically melodramatic text blurb. Ben Frost has taken this foundation and extended it to parody our contemporary culture, most often our obsession with and abuse of prescriptions drugs. This blunt, graphically-driven style finds its perfect counterpart in Jeremy Scott, creative direction of Moschino.
While high fashion houses have experimented with incorporating the work of artists, those mainstream and not, historic and contemporary, into their designs, such experiments have not always proved entirely critically successful, despite being commercial so. Louis Vuitton’s partnership with celebrated contemporary artist Jeff Koons immediately comes to mind- a simple google search yields a top result of ‘People Have Some Pretty Savage Things to Say About Louis Vuitton’s New Collection.’
The source of skepticism didn’t lie within the compatibility between the two, but rather their decision to forgo the use of Koons’ own unmistakable, highly acclaimed imagery in favor of imposing that of Old Master artists onto the brand’s hallmark accessories. The end result were small backpacks featuring the epic, dramatic historical scenes of Peter Paul Rubens, and Titian’s nudes adorning tote bags. Undoubtedly an ambitious project, yet one that raised the question: why collaborate with one of, if not the, most important contemporary artists, only to use him as a strange sort of middleman?
With Frost and Moschino, any such inconsistencies are utterly obliterated: there is an incredible, natural sense of fluidity between the designer of clothes and the designer of canvases that one has a hard time comprehending how the two have never crossed paths before. Scott’s runway styling is noted for being loud, mod, and, for lack of a better word, fun, which is befitting of the clothes his models wear, and even more so when those clothes feature Frost’s works. Just as Scott looks to retro styles through an unmistakably modern lens, Frost harks back to the days of Liechtenstein, but his focus is firmly positioned on poking fun at our overly consumerist culture. Maybe it is even that irony- Scott produces, Frost parodies that production- that makes the end result function that much better. Both designers seem to have subtly acknowledged as much in the key feature of the show’s afterparty: a Renault car wholly adorned by Frost’s parody of a cereal brand.