Art Basel

Fashion becomes art at Basel preview

Art and fashion intertwined at Art Basel Miami Beach this week, each serving as a backdrop and inspiration for the other.

That artistic juxtaposition was evident at the VIP preview, as silky dresses swirled down the aisles, boldly printed jackets summoned attention and sparkly jewelry caught the light.

For many patrons, wearing art to see art was de rigueur.

Clara Naman of New York, who previously worked in an art museum in Paris, dressed for Art Basel in a kaleidoscopic Vera Wang dress, accessorized with orange Balenciaga heels and a Prada purse.

“I really think it’s a piece of art in itself,” Naman, 28, said of her dress. “So when I see art I want to be colorful and feel like a piece of art, myself.”

Dina Reis, an art collector from New York who said she considers herself a chameleon, chose a black Dolce & Gabbana skirt, white Ralph Lauren blouse and Roberto Cavalli sweater with Giuseppe Zanotti shoes. Her jewelry glowed: vintage Chanel earrings and a sparkling K.C. Signatures bracelet.

“For me, fashion is art, and I think it’s a real expression of self,” she said.

Brightly colored apparel stood out — and fit in, simultaneously — amid the eye-popping paintings and sculptures.

“I wanted something happy,” said Miami interior designer Diane Sepler, who wore bright gold, with ring lizard Manolo Blahnik pumps and a vintage Fendi baguette purse made of fox fur and shirred chinchilla. “I wear a lot of black, gray and brown, and I thought today I would be happy,” she said.

Mother and daughter duo Sorri Naffis and Nina Miguel of Miami Beach selected their designer outfits to blend together, in an artistic way. Miguel chose a muted gray Valentino lacy, ruffled sweater dress and paired it with a Louis Vuitton purse. Her mother opted for a white and black Prada dress and a Chanel purse. Both wore Gucci boots.

“We like to put ourselves together when we go someplace, always,” Naffis said.

Joseph Paul Davis, an interior designer who lives in Palm Beach, looked animated in a pink and orange Lilly Pulitzer jacket, with an orange Etro belt and orange Prada shoes he bought in Italy, combined with jeans he got at Kmart for $19.

“It’s not about showing off, it’s just about having fun,” he said.

Indeed, for many, enjoying the parade of fashions was as delightful as viewing the art installations.

Irina Protopopescu, who owns a gallery in Brooklyn, floated down the aisles in a long, pleated Chloé dress, with pinkish-red Brian Atwood heels and a green Louis Vuitton bag.

“I wake up, I look in my closet and I just make a composite myself,” she said of her head-turning ensemble. “Usually it’s whatever pleases me.”

Italian designer fashions ruled for many arts patrons. Ondine de Rothschild, a collector who lives in Paris and New York, wore a Missoni skirt and sweater she bought in Venice.

Laura Ricci, from Boulder, Colo., wore a dress by Belgian designer Dries van Noten, with Celine shoes.

“I love fashion and art, and the two go together, for sure,” she said.

Some patrons even wore fashions they designed themselves.

Emma Berg, a Minneapolis clothing designer, wore a slinky asymmetrical gray skirt she designed, with a partly open-backed Yumi Kim blouse, a patent leather Kate Spade purse and Dsquared shoes.

Reina Chau, a designer from Hong Kong, wore a red jersey jumpsuit of her own design, accessorized with a Tracy Watts hat from New York and Chanel slippers.

“Comfort is key,” said Chau. “We’re walking around all day.”

Others chose their outfits for their levity.

“I like to wear funny clothes, not to be boring,” said Juan de Dios Ramirez, 53, of Mexico City, who wore matching green H&M walking shorts and sport jacket, with Prada golf shoes.

Diamonds and other baubles complemented the designer fashions and vintage finds swaying through the halls.

Marie-France Bloch of Miami Beach dripped in jewels, including a Chanel watch — one of a limited edition of 10 — and an Italian delicately handmade bracelet.

Mexico City jewelry designer Xanath Lammoglia’s polyurethane bracelet was also a limited edition piece, one of 20.

And Adriana Santiago’s bracelets from Mali were shiny, wearable art.

At floor level, footwear also caught plenty of eyes.

Artist Elias Maamari, who lives in Montreal, Paris and Beirut, donned multicolored Asics sneakers.

And Fiona Biberstein, who works at the famed Acquavella Galleries of New York, wore black-and-white striped Pierre Hardy wedges that stood out among the gorgeous Picassos, Thebauds and Calders.

She was nonplussed when asked to pose for a photo of her feet, saying it was the fifth time that day.

“I was standing next to Mr. Acquavella,” she said, laughing, “and someone was taking a picture of my shoes.”

Read more Art Basel stories from the Miami Herald

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