What to Wear to Art Basel

Dress Like You Are Already Famous 

Every day, you wake up and search for meaning. From the B12-Omega300-Collagen muesli you shovel down your gullet to the charcoal detox toothpaste. (Detox? Yes, because though we won’t admit it, we still eat marshmallows.) Even the clothes you will put on your back – all of it has meaning. All of it is a reflection of the choices you make. (It’s Descartes! It’s not who you are, but who you think you are.)
On the day that you wake up knowing you will enter the vast stage of meaning in the art fair known as Art Basel, you will be a little overwhelmed. You will be accosted by meaning all day long.  +/- 4000 artists bombarding you with their own personal meaning in life. The greatest meaning you’ll find, however, won’t be on the walls (painting) or on the floor to trip over (sculpture). It’s the walking displays, the walking-talking VIPs and not-so VIPS of Art Basel that are actually what makes Basel Basel. You will spend the greater part of your day with your jaw open, catching flies, aghast at the parade of personal style.

What to wear when in competition with 95,000 other art stalkers? Asymmetric, high-low, mismatching loafers, how much ruffle is too much ruffle?  Ask the hedgehog: he knows many things:

This is not advice column (i.e., just wear Balenciaga, basta, boom: a no-brainer), but rather a reflection on the thoughts you will tango with. My only advice is this: Dress like you are already famous.

mismatching Balenciaga/Vetements combo, the two unruly children of Demna Gvasalia

You could go easy and go monochrome, but you’re hardly be able to compete with the intelligence of a Robert Ryman even if your t-shirt has been ripped by a Japanese-Parisian designer in all the right places, this is going to be a difficult game. 

Try borrowing one big enough to wear off the shoulder and tell people your canvas goes beyond the canvas. Or as a skimpy dress? Necklaces, in the fashun world, have been long relegated to the realm of statements. Wear a white one. Plastic. Trust me. Proclaim your non-objectivity. Your refusal to participate in the game of Suprematism or Color Field painting. And then screw it all: just wear a pair of sporty white tube socks with something really really fancy.

Suddenly with the advent of a pussy-grabbing president, feminism has become hot again. How to dress like a feminist without wearing an unseasonably warm pink wool hat? Barbara Bloom gives us a clue. Mirrors and doubling: always keep them guessing.

the work of Barbara Bloom
How does this translate? The partner look, double trouble, of course. Preferably not your lover, just a friend. Get them to wear exactly what you are wearing and instantly you’ll be an instastar. The more nonsensical the outfit the better: Tahiti 08 t-shirt, Off-White jeans that are not off-white, and cheeky Anya Hindmarch “wink” sneakers. Go forth and be identical!

Another thought altogether: take whatever it is that you want to wear and graffiti it with whatever it is you want to say. Say, you want to say something, like, “Peanut Butter,” or “I am Jungle.” Say it loud, in ALL CAPS, in washaway marker. If anyone asks what it is, tell them you ran into Bethan Huws and her clever sandwich boards in the bathroom.
the work of Bethan Huws
Where’s the game changer? This year, it’s Chinese. Both Wang Shang and Guan Xiao have made sculptures that are so weird. In Wang’s case, it’s about rocks. Not just any rocks. And no, not rock studs, you Valentino addicts. Scholars rocks. That sounds like an oxymoron but it’s an actual thing in China, these rocks that are so special they’re declared special. (Sounds very Duchampian and it is!). 
Wang Shang

Whereas Guan Xiao makes objects that speak of the unspeakable language they speak. It’s all very heady and this is where you’re outfit is simply not going to compete at all. A wallpaper-esque floral dress over some deconstructed jeans and a baseball cap (freier wahl!) and lots and lots of faux pearls. No matter how hard you try, the Battlestar Galaxia is lost here. You will never look as good as Mick Jagger. Ever. End game.

Alert: the mega-collectors are easy to spot in the VIP crowd. They are always in celebrity disguise. Like an American mom and pop visiting their daughter for the first time in Europe: matching track suits and plastic visors.

Now, just imagine this outfit with Kelly's visor, thanks to The Corner, Berlin:

 Jacquemus skirt, Saint Laurent jacket, Vetements boots

Hot. Like I said, Dress like you are already famous. And not just Andy’s 15 minutes of fame. But now that track suits are all the rage, and they range from 1000s of dollars upwards, beware: there are mega-collector imposters out there who are quite simply fashion snobs.


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