"We're not here for the art, let's get that straight,” social media parodist Gstaad Guy explained in his recent viral post, ‘How to attend Frieze Art in London’. “We're here to flex, that's what Frieze is all about... See and be seen, you know I'm saying", he continued. With tongue-firmly-in-cheek, this succinct guide encapsulated how our feeds have been taken over by an infinite scroll of art-matched fit selfies, candid designer-in-the-wild sightings and best dressed round-ups. While more than 60,000 visitors were expected and many millions of pounds set to exchange hands between 12-16 October, one of the world’s most influential contemporary art fairs has to share its influence with fashion. “Art fairs are the new fashion weeks,” fashion and arts writer Joe Bobowicz declared in his must-read recent feature for i-D. Of course, the worlds of fashion and art have always orbited and influenced one another, but they've never been closer than they are right now.
From heavyweight brand endorsements from the likes of Raf Simons, Alexander McQueen, Prada and Marc Jacobs as they choose to show and party in London alongside the long weekend, to new-season dripped out gallerists, artists, curators and attendees that arguably eclipse fashion week street style, Frieze Fashion Week has arrived. Frieze London is, and will be, an art trade event, but there can be no denying that it has slowly evolved into an unofficial extension of the fashion show season. Whether it’s down to fashion's insatiable appetite for content or a genuine desire from brands to collaborate with the creative peers that inspire them, a need to fill up the event calendar or wish to engage with its metacommunities is all debatable. Intrigued, we asked model, musician and forever LN-CC family member Xiaoqiao Wang to help make sense of Frieze London 2022. “This is my first post-pandemic visit to Frieze London,” the Shanghai-born, London-based talent excitedly explained as she entered the tent, self-styled in new season Acne Studios, closely followed by photographer and LN-CC’s Head of Studio & Staff Ben Benoliel, who was visiting the iconic art fair for the very first time.
After Xiaoqiao documented her real-time experiences for our Instagram Stories, LN-CC sat down with her to hear more about her art and fashion-filled experiences. “To anyone who hasn’t been to Frieze London, I’d describe it as an immense labyrinth of booths inducing sensory overload,” she tells us with a laugh. “It can be overwhelming to navigate but it’s an exciting realm to indulge yourself in.” As she weaved through the labyrinth of booths, a number of artists and galleries both familiar and just-discovered stood out for her.
“I’m drawn to artists that are able to create their own worlds, or those able to put a mirror to their identity to express who they truly are,” Xiaoqiao adds. “Across mediums, I’m interested in learning about the artist behind the work and there’s this sense of a person’s mythology beneath the surface of the medium.” This is why she’s drawn to the work of Dallas-born, London-based multidisciplinary artist Guy Wielebinski whose expansive practice explores the intersections of mythology, identity, gender, nationhood, and memory. On show with Hales Gallery, Guy’s double-knitted acrylic scarf tapestry piece, Bittersweet, was a particular highlight. Another favourite was Kyle Dunn’s sensual painting, entitled Coat, on display at P·P·O·W because “it depicts men as objects of desire and a state of being emotional and vulnerable, with a highly stylised setting in the background”. Xiao also picked out Rebecca Ackroyd’s paintings and sculpture work First Blush, as it “explores female bodies and sexuality as sharpness/weapon”, alongside Pilar Corrias showing works by Kurdish artist Hayv Kahraman and her exploration of ‘otherness’. Despite what you might read or see on your feed during Frieze London, there really is great art on display. One just has to look past the posing and posturing.
“As you would expect we have a hugely sophisticated audience for our fairs, and our visitors’ love of arts extends to creativity more broadly — film, music and, of course, fashion,'' Frieze's commercial director Emily Glazebrook told Joe Bobowicz for i-D. Beyond the memes, fashion and art are made for one another so any existing boundaries between them will continue to blur. Whether you go to Frieze London for the art and stay for the flex or go for the flex and stay for the art, the Regents Park-based tents are guaranteed to put on a show. Who’s ready to see and be seen next October for spring/summer 24?