Christian Louboutin, Ebony Patterson, and a Busy Night at Art Basel – Vanity Fair

The Art Basel bacchanal was in full swing Tuesday night, with South Beach’s Collins Avenue playing host to chic droves of the international art and fashion set who flitted between events at the boardwalk’s grand hotels. The Faena partnered with Bulgari to honor artist Raúl de Nieves, while the Freehand was given a makeover to host the Prada Mode opening-night party.

Meanwhile, Ian Schrager’s Edition Hotel (true to form for the Studio 54 mastermind) transformed into a pleasure palace, with its sprawling gardens, Le Labo scented lobbies, and warren of subterranean clubs (including a bowling alley and skating rink). If the line of black S.U.V.s waiting to discharge their well-heeled riders at the front entrance wasn’t proof enough that the Edition was the evening’s epicenter, then its constellation of cocktails, dinners, after-parties, and after-after-parties, often held simultaneously, certainly was.

Earlier in the evening, the hotel’s Matador Room played host to a dinner honoring Paola Pivi, the reclusive Italian artist who flew in from Alaska for her new show at the Bass Museum. Perrotin Gallery, which represents Pivi and who co-hosted the dinner, is known for its Lower East Side x factor, and attracted a cross-section of Basel personalities, including Michèle Lamy, wife and muse of designer Rick Owens; new-age pop princess Poppy and Titanic Sinclair; and millennial art darlings Sarah Bahbah and Misha Kahn.

Meanwhile, just over the bridge on the mainland, the Pérez Art Museum ratcheted up the glamor with an intimate party hosted by Christian Louboutin to celebrate the newest exhibition by Ebony Patterson. As it turns out, Louboutin and Patterson were introduced by mutual friend Swizz Beatz (who, at that very moment, was preparing for his D.J. set at the Whitewall Magazine party in the basement club back at the Edition). Patterson and Louboutin broke away from the guests to speak to V.F. about the interplay of fashion and art in each other’s work.

“I’m interested in the way that working-class people and people of color use our dress as a tool for creating a sense of empowerment in social spaces that they’re not allowed to be in power in,” Patterson said, champagne glass in hand. “And also, too, as a way of physically carving themselves into the space. Saying like, ‘I am here, you cannot deny me.’ And I’m interested in how dress creates visibility on bodies that are deemed invisible because of where they sit socially, because of where they sit in terms of social or racial hierarchy. And how dress also becomes referential in some ways to art.”

Louboutin broke in. “But I would say that in the work of Ebony, it’s not fashion, it’s ornamentation, more . . . Not fashion in the sense of branded fashion, but more, costume . . . I’m not a collector, I just look at things in general, I don’t possess things—very, very few. But there is one thing, which draws me to Ebony’s work, is that you have . . . different layers. There is a layer, a first reading, a visual reading, and it’s very beautiful, but if you go deeper, there is also different layers of what it speaks and it means.”

Asked what Art Basel meant to Patterson, as an artist, she replied, “I have colleagues who are also here showing, and it’s also really important to me that I support my colleagues in the process, and go and see what they’re doing. But the market of Basel is not the thing that interests me. It’s seeing what’s there, I’m not here to be seen, I’m here to see what’s here.”

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