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Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.
Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.
Courtesy of Kenny Scharf Studio.
Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.
Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.
Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.
Presents
The artist applies his recognizable touch to an expressive collection of wearable, playable art.
Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.

Episode 3

Bringing the Colorful World of Kenny Scharf to Vilebrequin

By Whitewall

July 29, 2022

This summer, Vilebrequin debuts its latest artist-designed swim series created in partnership with JRP|Editions and artists John M Armleder, Sylvie Fleury, and Kenny Scharf. Now available for purchase in stores and online, the colorful collection of swim garments and accessories showcases each creator’s unique practice on wearable—and in some cases, playable—canvases, invigorating summer with fun, limited-edition styles.

Most known for his colorful paintings and murals, featuring zooming characters with smiles and grins, the Los Angeles-born contemporary artist Kenny Scharf garnered acclaim for his street art in New York City after moving to Manhattan in the 1980s. All the while, Scharf was hand-painting works on textiles, inspired by his father who worked at a knitwear company. Since, his work has grown into a multidisciplinary practice, including sculpture, fashion, performance art, and more.

Open Gallery

Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.

Scharf’s designs feature some of his iconic cosmic motifs, as well as his own rendition of the Vilebrequin’s well-loved turtle print, seen in the collections Faces in Places and Tortues Multico Rainbow. On trunks, for instance, are Scharf’s grinning characters rendered in bright color, from the waistband to the pockets. On a navy-blue tote bag, trippy turtles swim in various directions, their colors ranging from light blue and yellow to red. Vibrant hues and patterns are introduced, elevating swimsuits, tops, shorts, and accessories like bags and hats to art.

Open Gallery

Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.

For the collaboration, Scharf was inspired by his time in the art world, as well as his sunny home of Los Angeles. Tapping into his earlier experience painting textiles by hand, which Scharf began doing in the 1970s, he created engaging pieces that expand upon his visual vocabulary we’ve all come to know and love.

Whitewall spoke with Scharf about his designs for Vilebrequin and why wearable art is one of his obsessions.

Open Gallery

Courtesy of Kenny Scharf Studio.

WHITEWALL: How did you approach your collaboration with Vilebrequin? What was the starting point?

KENNY SCHARF: I appreciate when a company like Vilebrequin approaches me after they’ve done their homework! It’s a pleasure for me to see quality and thoughtfulness into utilizing my art on fun clothes.

WW: Why are “Faces in Places” and “Tortues Multico Rainbow" featured? What do these characters represent?

KS: Why? Because they look great, because I love turtles and swimming and because dots with emotional multicolored faces always make for fun apparel!

Open Gallery

Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.

WW: How do you feel your works translate from canvases to textiles?

KS: Perfectly well. I’ve been involved with textiles not only my whole artistic life but my father’s business growing up was a knitwear company. I’ve been around textiles my whole life. I’ve always been incorporating repetitive patterns and many of my paintings have a textile “look” to them in their all-overness. I started making my own textiles by hand painting them back in the late 70s and then moved on to silkscreening clothes very DIY. It’s natural for me to collaborate with a great company like Vilebrequin that can take it to another level available for everyone!

WW: With this collaboration, you're inviting the wearer to consider their “face value,” unimpeded by elitism or inhibitions. Why?

KS: The great thing about clothes and fashion is that they’re available to everyone and are not “precious“ like a painting on a wall though they translate the art very well and clothes of course are a major form of expression. It makes perfect sense that faces with expressions would work well!

Open Gallery

Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.

WW: How does living in Los Angeles impact your approach to creating, especially now that you're co-creating swimwear?

KS: Growing up in Los Angeles in the '60s and '70s gave me a very colorful and plastic view of my surroundings. Cars, architecture, fashion almost all of the new things being created in my view as a child screamed fantasy, color, and of course Hollywood is a dream place. Fun in the sun couldn’t be more California and how could you do that without a Scharf x Vilebrequin bathing suit?

WW: What values do feel you and Vilebrequin have in common?

KS: Bringing great visuals into wearable art that’s casual yet special. Democratizing art through clothes has always been one of my obsessions. Accessibility to everyone that wants to partake is invited!

Open Gallery

Kenny Scharf, courtesy of Vilbrequin.

WW: If you could only wear one piece in the collection, what would it be?

KS: I would wear one look, not one piece: Charli with Moorea and Beny.

WW: What are you working on this summer? Or in 2022?

KS: Preparing for a show in Seoul in September and working on a new sculpture edition. Then preparing for a spring show in Europe.

Discover Vilebrequin's collections.