There’s a lot to see at Art Basel and Art Central Hong Kong. There’s art, for one. But if you grow a little tired of the paintings and the installations and the, whoops, discarded personal belongings people carefully walk around Just In Case it is, in fact, a priceless demonstration of satirical genius, well, there’s always people-in-cool-outfits-watching.
Art Basel and Art Central Hong Kong — with the sponsored parties, the after-parties and the whatever else the glitterati can squeeze in before our city’s current Cinderella curfew — have always been see-and-be-seen kind of events. But unlike members-only clubs and highfalutin steakhouses, the dress code at these contemporary art fairs? Practically non-existent. Come as you are! Or dress to impress, to revolt, to seduce and everything in between.
Whether you’re of the sprezzaturra camp of engineered carelessness or just someone who wants to get in and get out, there are only a couple of things to note for 2022’s editions of Art Basel and Art Central: face masks continue to be mandatory, as are Vaccine Passes showing at least 2+ doses if you’re over the age of 18. If you must bring a bag, you’re only allowed one, its dimensions must be smaller than 40 x 20 x 40cm and it cannot be a backpack, a suitcase or a trolley. And sorry: no smoking or vaping on the premises. It’s not the Met Gala bathroom, people.
Art Basel and Art Central Dress Code:
In the grand ol’ adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” all-black top-to-toe is shorthand for the quintessential PR uniform — for good reason. It’s easy, it’s chic, it’s unimpeachable. It says “I might be staff or I might be Elizabeth Holmes, so tread carefully”. If you’re there on a mission — as an errant lifestyle journalist who’s really only in attendance for vibes, guilty as charged — jet-black blends. Make like the shadows and drift in-between pieces you’re finger-on-chin-pretending to purchase and, when the clock strikes, disappear.
Our resident photographer-slash-EIC Nathan Erickson will be on set to pap street-style pics for the site and the ‘gram, and here’s his advice on making it to the other side of his lens: “I’m just going to look for people that don’t look like sh*t. That catch my eye. I don’t know.”
You heard the man. An OTT outfit never hurts at a place like Art Basel/Central. When in Rome! When in the Convention and Exhibition Centre! So make a commitment to doldrum-shattering colours, poufy volume, big, big prints and big, big hats. Like you’re in attendance at the Royal Ascot sitting primly by the Queen. Well, you’ll probably be in the company of Hong Kong’s own Frog King, so same same.
Dress the Art
There’s a lot of prestige, rigamarole and very stringent guidelines for influencers involved in attending Art Central and Art Basel, but at the end of the day, it’s the art we’re celebrating. Go for astronaut-chic in a full foiled ‘fit to stand toe-to-toe with Tom Friedman’s Looking Up (2020) sculpture — a three-metre-tall stainless steel sculpture of a man standing with his head canted skyward — at Lehmann Maupin. Or go incognito against Ewa Juskiewicz’s incomparable faceless portraits at the Gagosian booth. Or, even, get a little trippy-dippy with your prints selection alongside Nate Lowman’s satellite rendering of hurricanes at David Zwirner. Because you know what they say: Good artists copy, great artists steal. So steal the look.
The Artist Collab
Art and fashion has always had a thing going on. A lot of fashion designers identify as artists because a stretched canvas only means so much. The massive proliferation of collaborative efforts, though, has extended seamlessly into art-fashion drops, with Rick Owens x Swampgod’s recent link-up and Cassius Hirst’s Prada residency top-of-mind examples. Rep your fav in outfits they have hands in bringing to life, or just rep brands that were already artsy to begin with. Go BODE or go home. KidSuper for the boys who get it. Schiaparelli for the Bella Hadids of the world. Dries Van Noten’s Verner Panton prints. Any Louis Vuitton x Takashi Murakami find.