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How I Collect

Designer Reed Krakoff on Collecting Art as Inspiration

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Designer Reed Krakoff on Collecting Art as Inspiration

Reed Krakoff has had a remarkable year. In April, the New York-based fashion designer dressed Michelle Obama in a head-turning royal-blue dress for the cover of Vogue, and then, just a few weeks later, announced that he would be departing Coach after 16 years to focus on his own namesake label.

Now, Assouline has just published Krakoff's new book, Women in Art: Figures of Influence, a collection of interviews with dealers, collectors, online commentators, and other prominent art-world women, such as gallerists Almine Rech and Marianne Boesky, and advisor and Salon 94 owner Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. Each interview is accompanied by a luxuriant black-and-white photograph of the luminary, taken by the designer himself.

Krakoff, who aspired to become a painter long before he made his name as a clothier, spoke to Artspace about the inspiration for his book and the overlap between art and fashion.

You've said before that your original career ambition was to become an artist or an art dealer. Did taking the photographs for your new book help fulfill this lingering artistic impulse? 

In a way, when I design for my collection, I am an artist. Photography is an art form I consistently work and lose myself in. The book was not planned; it came out of a collection of photos I took of various gallery owners and bloggers.

How much did the tradition of fashion photography influence the portraits?

Photographers like Helmut Newton have certainly influenced my work, but when I am shooting it is very fluid and in the moment. I am not trying to emulate someone else’s work.

Were the subjects all women that you knew, or did you meet some of them during the course of this project?

I knew of all of them and their work, but through the project I was able to get to know each on a personal level. They are all fantastic, strong, and beautiful women in their own way. I notice their style and passion reflected into the art and artists they represent.

In what ways does collecting art inspire your design process?

The process is constant and I find myself regularly inspired. Usually, it’s not a single work of art but a collection that influences my designs. I’ve always collected to learn about the artist and the entire body of work.

How did you begin collecting? 

I have always been interested in art, and I started by collecting books. After some years, when I was able to afford art, I learned about the artist, the story behind the artist, and then purchased pieces from a collection by that artist that I really loved. To this day, I still collect this way.

Who are some artists you're most excited about right now? 

My excitement is always shifting and changing. Right now, I am particularly interested in Allan McCollum, Josef Beuys, and Wade Guyton.

If you could own any work of art, what would it be?

My tastes are always changing. I don’t look at it as a goal to own one particular work. I look to understand and know about a particular body of work from the point of view of the artist.

See some of Reed Krakoff's favorite works on Artspace at right, and click here to explore the entire collection.

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