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Dubai-based James Clar and Donatella Versace unveil collaborative piece at the Singular Suit show

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All images and information courtesy of traffic

World-famous fashion designers and international artists are brought together by Esquire Magazine to re-think the idea of the man’s suit.


30th, July 2009, London – The biggest names in fashion, design and art gathered at Somerset House, London last night to celebrate the opening of the Esquire Singular Suit show. Esquire asked 18 leading fashion designers and tailors to collaborate with a major artist of their choice to create a bespoke, one-off suit that represents their skills and artistic vision. Celebrated Italian designer, Donatella Versace, picked light artist James Clar for the project. James is the artist-in-residence at traffic, a design and art practice in Dubai.

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Their collaboration has resulted in an awe-inspiring piece that pushes film fantasy into visceral reality. The inspiration for the piece is cinema’s iconic gentleman spy, classic characters like James Bond, The Saint and Thomas Crowne were forever dodging bullets and dicey situations, all while wearing their dapper suits. This image of the elegant man in explosive situations propelled James Clar to envision a fantastic scene straight from a film. James Clar and Donatella Versace’s piece for Esquire features a Versace suit with giant spikes of light exploding from the seams, a re-interpretation of a still frame of a film right at the moment of an explosion. Each spike is approximately 1.5 metres long, making the entire sculpture more than 3 metres tall. The suit joins 17 others at the Esquire Singular Suit Exhibition at Somerset House. Designs include an Aquascutum and Antony Gormley creation made entirely from metal plates and leadfilled trousers (and a “naked” organza suit by Spencer Tunick and Richard James. Louis Vuitton designer Paul Helbers has teamed up with Christian Schoeler to fashion a heavy suit made entirely from a painted canvas, while Henry Holland has worked with Marc Jacobs’ tattooist, Scott Campbell, to create a leather mustard-coloured suit with tattoo-style markings of supermodels’ names on the sleeve. Norton & Sons and Turner Prize-winner Jeremy Deller have drawn inspiration from Winston Churchill by re-creating the prime minister’s “Siren Suit” – a trademark suit that Churchill designed for himself during the war.

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The suits will be photographed to appear in a unique portfolio in the special hardback September edition of Esquire magazine, on sale 6 August. A must-have for all fashion-conscious men, the September issue features more than 60 pages dedicated to the suit. The issue will not only appear in hardback on the newsstands, but Esquire will be producing a limited edition VIP slipcase, designed especially for the magazine by Ralph Lauren. Esquire editor Jeremy Langmead says: “The designers and artists who took part in Esquire’s Singular Suit project have visually re-defined what the suit represents; the imagination and work involved is incredible. It’s extraordinary to see so many creative forces, from two of the world’s most influential mediums, presenting their work under one roof.”
The full list of designers and muses collaborating in the Singular Suit project are:
1. Richard James with artist Spencer Tunick
2. Sir Paul Smith with sculptor Richard Woods
3. Christopher Bailey of Burberry with musician George Craig
4. John Galliano with photographer Zanna
5. Patrick Grant at Norton & Sons with Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller
6. Kim Jones at Dunhill with artist Terence Koh
7. Graeme Fidler at Aquascutum with Turner Prize-winning sculptor Antony Gormley
8. Henry Holland with Scott Campbell (Marc Jacobs’ tattooist)
9. Dolce & Gabbana with designer/architect/sculptor Ron Arad
10. Donatella Versace with light artist/designer James Clar
11. Tommy Hilfiger with musician Joey Ramone
12. Paul Elbers at Louis Vuitton with artist Christian Schoeler
13. Kris Van Assche at Dior with artist Mat Collishaw
14. Italo Zucchelli at Calvin Klein with artist Nate Lowman
15. Giorgio Armani with theatre designer/artist Robert Wilson
16. Bruno Pieters at Hugo Boss and artist Jan De Cock
17. Ralph Lauren with Ferrari
18. Frida Giannini of Gucci with Mark Ronson
The Singular Suit project opens to the public at the Terrace Rooms, Seamen’s Hall at Somerset House from 31 July – 31 August. Esquire magazine’s special September issue, dedicated to the suit, is on sale, 6 August.

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