Why the new Flavio Lucchini exhibition in Dubai is a must for fashion lovers

A veteran of both the fashion and art world, his insight is unique

Flavio Lucchini with designer Yves Saint Laurent. Courtesy Flavio Lucchini
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It’s not every day that an industry legend opens an art exhibition, but the Oblong Gallery in Bluewaters Dubai can boost that its latest show, From Fashion to Art: the Vogue Lesson, does exactly that. The event runs from February 6 until March 10, and showcases the latest work of Flavio Lucchini, a heavyweight from the dual worlds of art and fashion.

Now aged 91, Lucchini can best be described as having lived two lives. The present one is that of artist and commentator on the role that fashion plays within society. Rendered as totemic statues, almost devoid of human features, or as quasi-cartoon figures, in pastel tones or gold leaf, Lucchini’s art focuses intently on the space where art and fashion overlap.

Whether it's as monumental figures in rusted metal, or delicately carved forms in bas relief, each work shares a common practice – that any detail (such as it is) is given only to the clothes, and never the figure inside them. A simple enough device, yet one that throws a spotlight on fashion, and the judgement values placed upon it.

Lucchini explains, “I thinks fashion is really like a kind of religion today, the idols of today, we idolise fashion. So my artwork tries to reflect this, like alter artwork.”

So why is he leaning so heavily on fashion for his artwork? Because he helped create the very industry he now scrutinises. Lucchini’s former life (until 1990) was as the art director behind some of the world’s most influential magazine titles.

In 1965 he transformed the sleepy title Novita into the powerhouse now known as Vogue Italia. He helped launch its brother title L'Uomo Vogue three years later, and for its pages famously persuaded the reclusive designer Yves Saint Laurent to model his own debut men's collection in 1972. Lucchini discovered and launch the career of Oliviero Toscani (of the controversial Benetton ad's fame) and boosted then-emerging designers Gianni Versace and Giorgio Armani. Ever seen the Armani logo? Lucchini designed it.

In short, for those who have an interest in fashion, its history and its future, or for anyone who has ever picked up a fashion magazine, this exhibition is a must see, as it stems from the mind of the man who shaped what we now see. As a commentary on the modern obsession with brands, it is fascinating. As a glimpse into the thinking of a visionary man, it is utterly astonishing.