A SYDNEY entrepreneur is drawing on priceless international artworks and is using them to start a local fashion label.
Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Gustav Klimt and Leonardo da Vinci are the artists on whose works Bruno Schiavi has based the prints and silhouettes of his new Piju fashion collection.
"I've always been inspired by these incredible pieces of art," Schiavi said. "I thought wouldn't it be amazing if I could create my own collection that brings out the old masters, but at the same time tweaking them and making them more fashionable and wearable."
A jumpsuit based on van Gogh's Starry Night, a blazer and mini dress inspired by Gustav Klimt's The Kiss and a maxi dress based on Monet's Le Grand Canal are among the pieces Schiavi will launch on September 5 in New York at the Fashion Palette trade fair.
The entrepreneur is able to closely reference the works by the artists because under the Copyright Act of 1976, and its subsequent amendments, there is no copyright protection for works published in the public domain before 1923.
"I've reinterpreted [the artworks] myself and recreated everything myself from scratch," Schiavi said. "For me, it was about making sure I replicated it closely enough but made it different enough to make it fashionable."
Schiavi is better known for his relationships with modern-day celebrities rather than old masters. The businessman has built a multimillion-dollar empire by creating clothing lines for celebrities through his company Jupi Corporation, which has partnered with the likes of the Kardashian sisters, The Biggest Loser franchise, Priscilla Presley and Peter Morrissey.
But some cultural identities have questioned appropriating historic artworks for contemporary apparel.
"I don't care for this at all," said Gene Sherman, the chairman and executive director of the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. "What concerns me is the decontextualising of these images so they just become pretty pictures.''
The Powerhouse Museum curator of design and society, Glynis Jones, said referencing historical works was common yet sometimes fraught.
"In contemporary culture there is a lot of referencing and remixing of history and other people's work," she said. "Doing that is a really careful balance … if you don't use it in the right way it can destroy your appreciation of [it]."
Schiavi acknowledged this but said: "To me, it's about making sure that it's done in a tasteful manner and bringing out something that would make the artist proud."
From: The Sydney Morning Herald