At this point, Gary Baseman has probably marked everything off of the bucket list for his career. He has won several Emmys and had a huge, traveling (brilliant) major museum show and even successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign: dude has done it all. The latest addition to this lengthy list of creative triumphs is a luxury fashion collaboration, one on par with Kenny Scharf for Jeremy Scott and Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton: Coach enlisted Baseman to provide complimentary monsters for their Spring Ready-To-Wear collection. This sounds like it could be a troubling pairing, yes—but the collaboration is absolutely spectacular.
Baseman’s characters are used in myriad ways: they are at the center of a few t-shirts, seemingly painted on purses, and even patterned very elegantly onto dresses. Like the shirts, the characters are even knitted into sweaters. No, they aren’t appliqué but woven into the material, a seamless and quaint and quirky effect that takes Baseman’s creations and transforms them from art objects or cartoons to these high fashion objects of intrigue. Coach wisely uses an understated palette of pastels—and a few complimentary prints like cheetah (which Baseman may have created)—to place his work at the center of the clothing. Moreover, the 1970s-meets-1990s design of the clothes somehow works here: it’s then and now, fake and real, imaginative and real.
What’s most surprising is this pairing: Baseman is phenomenal while Coach has become so suburban mall. Whoever thought to enlist over at Coach needs many, many high fives. The designer(s) who also worked with Gary to figure out how the pairing would manifest itself did an amazing job as well. Collaborations between art and fashion require a great amount of editing—and confidence. You can see more from the collaboration here.