The creatures of the art and fashion worlds have been crossbreeding for so long now, it’s hard to tell them apart.
But this year’s Frieze New York art fair underlined some differences in the presentation style of the two species. Fashion creatures always carefully peacock to appeal to the parasitic clickers that flutter around them.
Inside the rarefied, clinically white hive that is an art fair, on the other hand, art world organisms must either blend in with their colorful surroundings, or signal flamboyantly so as to stand out from the pack. Here, the camouflage—the fashion, if you will—can be looser, either more mundane and utilitarian (especially this year, when Frieze was held during a weekend of high precipitation) or they can be so insanely attention-getting it achieves an awkward, sweetly geeky extreme that would never be duplicated in the street style ecosystems that surface during fashion week.
We can refer to these Frieze beings as chameleons: unpredictable, changeable, and a little bit elusive. Unlike their street style counterparts in the fashion world, they are also harder to capture. Often they turn away, looking at a strange object or wall hanging, drooping over their phones, moodily moving through doorways. The creatures we discovered at Frieze New York wear a mix of utility and magnificence, all with an air of (practiced) carelessness.
The Gallerina: Quiet, loyal and groomed, every Frieze nest must have one.
The Guccigekko: Lavish in its satin-y sheen, the luminous Guccigekko is a master at looking like it does not want to be noticed.
The Indoor Amagansett: Prevalent in coastal communities, this beachcombing creature made a surprise appearance inside the Frieze hive.
The Filigreed Brexit: The newly autonomous Filigreed Brexit enters each nest with a cautious yet still haughty demeanor.
The Lilac Sequin: Like an earthbound sea anemone, this translucent being floats through Frieze with breathtaking grace.
The Caped Cub: With muscular but naked legs, this hearty creature has found a way to sheath itself in synthetic fibers to brave harsh weather and shade.
The Scream-Patterned Moody: Though it is resplendent in eye-popping prints, the Moody remains watchful and solemn.
The Vertical Crosswalk: Slowly over time, a traffic pattern migrated onto the hides of these elegant organisms. A gorgeous example of urban evolution.
The Bedraggled Belladonna: Armored in the chrysalis from which it just emerged, the bedraggled belladonna moves through the Frieze nests like a guarded newborn.
The Distracted Meringue: This busy, lemony beauty can’t be bothered to give you attention
The Tomato Red Recluse: Spotted several times at the fair, this crisp but poisonous being is frequent yet strangely hard to capture.