Leonardo da Vinci Is the Hottest Guy In Fashion
It's 2019, the world is on fire, and a huge trend is...Leonardo da Vinci, the most famous Renaissance artist of all time?
How is this even possible? Is not ever-lasting eminence, and an unimpeachable place in the canon of culture high and pop, a safeguard against trendiness?
AND YET! The second most famous Leo is all of a sudden everywhere. In streetwear, at Ikea, at the Louvre, on your handbags, and even in the very spirit of the career-slash-other career-slash side hustle lifestyle!
In a new collection for Ikea called "MARKERAD," which goes on sale later this week, Virgil Abloh has created a $99 "backlit artwork" of da Vinci's "Mona Lisa." You can also use it to charge your phone, which is honestly probably an idea in one of da Vinci's lost sketchbooks. The most valuable artwork in the world, a global symbol of the elusive aura that separates art from everything else, can now be purchased, in its own way, as a part of a drop (if you just line up at 7 AM local time for a wristband to enter a sale that begins at 10 AM). This is just the latest in Abloh's ongoing bromance with da Vinci-the "Mona Lisa" (or "MONALISA") was printed on T-shirts and hoodies for Off-White's Spring 2018 collection, and the painting has become a kind of house motif since then. ( The most recent iteration includes a description over the upper right chest: "Is half-length portrait painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci," language that appears to be pulled from the K-12 test preparation resource EDinformatics.)
Abloh is a master at pointing to things just on the cusp of dominating cultural currency, from the Hadid family to constant plane travel, and once again, he is onto something with his interest in this promising artist. It's easy to see why da Vinci appeals to Abloh, and not only because his newish job as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton means he, like da Vinci, is a France transplant. Both are also prototype obsessives, da Vinci with his sketches for flying ships and circular tanks, and Abloh with his sneakers. Da Vinci was-don't cancel me!!!-the original multihyphenate, a man who so frenetically jumped between ideas and jobs that he left several commissions unfinished.
Several of the results of those ignored commission deadlines are on now display at the Louvre, in a cultural event that trumps even streetwear (I KNOW!). An eponymously named retrospective of da Vinci's work, which marks the 500th anniversary of his death, opened earlier this month to great fanfare. Announced with a spellbinding...marketing campaign, the show also marks the reinstallation of the "Mona Lisa" in its original, newly renovated location at the Louvre as well as a virtual reality exhibition called "Mona Lisa, Beyond the Glass," fashioning a compelling virtual experience to subsidize the increasingly impossible real experience of actually seeing the actual painting. The advance sale-only tickets for the retrospective are reportedly moving briskly, and the show has been ravenously reviewed as "quieter, slower, better" than the marketing frenzy might have suggested, and "a blockbuster with brains."
But da Vinci is popping up in other spheres of popular culture, too. The marquee event of Milan Fashion Week, a gala called the Green Carpet Awards, took inspiration from the artist with giant wings inspired by his flying machine, and surprised guests with "humble and beautiful tablescapes" inspired by "The Last Supper." And let's be honest: the fervor for the tablescape concept is arguably traceable to "The Last Supper," which made the #bounteousspread of the #feast more central than most previous iterations of the scene. You might even say that the visage we call "Instagram face" is actually freezing countless women into a pose with all the elusivity of the smokey-eyed, shy smiling "Mona Lisa." Man, this guy really invented everything! Or not: everything that happens everyday has already happened before. Who says you can't retweet the past? Of course you can, old sport!