Dior to Sponsor Guggenheim International Gala in November

Dior is set to sponsor the Guggenheim Museum’s fall gala, honouring artists Christopher Wool and James Turrell.

James Turrell, Aten Reign, 2013. Daylight and LED light. Temporary site-specific installation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York © James Turrell | Photo: David Heald © SRGF

NEW YORK, United States — Today, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announced that Dior will be the lead sponsor of its fall gala, taking place on the 6th and 7th of November, 2013, and honouring artists Christopher Wool and James Turrell, whose light exhibition “Aten Reign” is set to open at the museum tomorrow. Raf Simons, Dior’s artistic director, co-hosted a breakfast this morning at the museum’s Wright restaurant to announce the partnership.

Simons will serve as honourary co-chair of the event, affectionately known as GIG (Guggenheim International Gala), which will include a party for young collectors, featuring a yet-to-be-announced musical performance, and a formal dinner.

“There’s been a long relationship between art and the house. It was one of the first things we discussed with Raf when we met to talk about the Dior contract,” Dior chief executive Sidney Toledano told BoF.

Simons is a well-known collector of art, whose past fashion collections have featured the work of Pablo Picasso. Andy Warhol’s watercolours played a significant role in his Spring 2013 collection for Dior.

“Historically, you’ll find many designers who are also great collectors,” said Richard Armstrong, the museum’s director. “The visual activities are parallel, but also intersect.”

Indeed, the links between fashion and contemporary art are longstanding. Back in the 1930s, Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated with Salvador Dalí on Surrealist-inspired pieces, while Yves Saint Laurent created a Piet Mondrian-inspired shift dress in 1965. In fact, the designer Christian Dior himself was heavily embedded in the art world and befriended the likes of Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau.

In recent years, the success of fashion collaborations with contemporary artists, the growing popularity of fashion exhibitions at major museums, and the rise of the Costume Institute Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which receives red-carpet press rivaling the Oscars, have cemented a more commercially-minded bond between fashion and art. In 2011, Dior itself staged a show at the Pushkin Museum of Art in Moscow and plans to open major exhibitions in Hong Kong and Shanghai this fall.

Mr Toledano told BoF that the underlying goal of these efforts was to bring museum-goers closer to the world of couture. “We have 3,000 people journey to our atelier every year and I see that these young women and men are so excited to see the workshops and the magic behind the clothes,” he said. “Raf and the new collection are really successful in the States and a lot of great things are happening in New York. I hope that this is the start of a long relationship with the Guggenheim.”