Anything is possible on the internet
The Scottish artist Hey Reilly uses his Instagram account, @hey_reilly, not for filtered vacation shots or self-promotional posts, but to create collisions of what he calls “brandalized” images: Lord Voldemort posing for Louis Vuitton; Justin Bieber pap shots grafted onto Balenciaga ads; a Céline campaign featuring the one and only Ms Dion; or, as seen here, Lady Liberty reimagined as a Fendi-toting fashion icon.
He also draws on more traditional high art, from Vermeer to Da Vinci. “I see an Instagram square as a digital version of a T-shirt,” he says, “a personalised message zone with the potential to share ideas of beauty, power, and wit.”
While the work of Hey Reilly and other fashion provocateurs like @siduations and @copylab might once have existed on the fringes, the fashion establishment is now in on the joke. (Think Gucci unveiling intentionally misspelled “Guccy” logos or the recent infiltration of antifashion Uggs, Crocs, and Juicy Couture tracksuits into the collections of, respectively, Y/Project, Balenciaga, and Vetements.)
Previously unbridgeable divides between high and low, sport and soigné, tasteful and not, have all but disappeared. So when Hey Reilly posted mash-ups of Fendi and Fila, he caught the attention of Fendi’s creative director of accessories, menswear, and kids, Silvia Venturini Fendi.
She DM’ed him, and the rest is collaborative history. “We share a similar outlook,” he says, “a sort of easy wit, a tongue-in-cheek approach that enjoys the freedom to poke fun at fashion and fancy ideas.”
For A/W 2018-19, the Fendi men’s and women’s shows played host to items like luxe oversized sweatshirts and top-handle totes with the remixed logo. On the heels of its runway success, this month the house unveils Fendi Mania, a capsule collection of ready-to-wear and accessories for men, women, and children.
Venturini Fendi has always had a personal soft spot for the sportswear label. When she was growing up, “all the Italian kids had a shirt from Fila,” she recalls.
“Every summer, my parents used to send me to a summer boarding school. I played tennis, and I had this polo. It was the exact one that Björn Borg used to wear.” The idea of blending two opposing elements appealed to her. “It’s like when you wear sneakers with a tuxedo, because it’s today’s life. There are no borders anymore.” While fashion was once a one-way street, “today there is a dialogue. Fashion is taking and giving at the same time.” Says Fendi’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld (who’s no stranger to collaborations), “Fendi is moving forward, changing and enticing. That’s what fashion is about!”
For this project, Lagerfeld looked to “a natural evolution of the logo. Silvia and I decided to use it in a modern way, like a print.”
Given fashion’s renewed love affair with all things branded, we’ll likely see these looks dominating street style come next fashion week.
As for Hey Reilly, he’s now garnered one of the fashion world’s most exclusive invitations: an offer to visit Venturini Fendi in Rome.
“Before, we were just Instagram friends,” Venturini Fendi says. “Now we are real-life friends. He’s part of the family.”