— October 31, 2014 —
Fresh off of a Style.com feature on the label, Cocurata is the buzzy new name on the fashion block these days. A label born out of a collaboration between former ksubi designer George Gorrow and Opera Gallery New York's curator George Benias, Cocurata is delivering a whole new approach to the arts-meets-fashion design sphere. Though the idea of artists and fashion designers collaborating is not new (Mondrian famously worked with Yves Saint Laurent in 1965 and, more recently, Marc Jacobs collaborated with Takeshi Murakami for Louis Vuitton), Cocurata is an attempt to take that relationship to the next level, approaching each collection as a hybrid of both an 'exhibition space' and a fashion line, hoping to introduce these artists to a whole new audience and promote their work through new media. "Rather than simply appropriating their artwork, each artist works in direct dialogue and creative exchange with the Cocurata team to reimagine and reinterpret their work into stand alone pieces that function as both clothing and art," says George Gorrow of the process. George Benias elaborates, "Working together with the artists to create our collections, we all keep in mind which of the artworks and prints could be extracted to work best with the kinds of shapes and the vibes we come up with for the collection. With all of those things in mind, another important factor in choosing the artworks was simply how much the work resonated with us." We sat down with Cocurata's brand manager, Suzi Buckley while we were in Paris to chat about Cocurata's debut Spring/Summer 2015 collection and how the label came about.
The Cocurata set-up at Paper Mache Tiger Showroom in Paris.
Cocurata, what does it mean?
The word 'cocurata' comes from the definition of being 'co-curated'. The way the brand works is that we have two guys behind it. One is George Gorrow, ex-ksubi, and George Benias who is our curator. George Gorrow is the creative director and George Benias is the curator. Benias' background is with Opera Gallery in New York; he looked after the contemporary and street artists for them. The two of them 'co-curated' this brand. So that's where the brand came from. The idea was to eventually create a brand that has that street wear touch, that is activewear and sportswear inspired, but in elevated way. It's high-luxury sportswear, elevated street wear. You will see a lot of bomber jackets and hoodies always done in beautiful fabrics such as silk jacquard or leather. So you always have the aesthetic of a sportswear or activewear concept, but done in beautiful fabrics. That's the aesthetic of the brand going forward. You have dresses that you can wear with sneakers or sandals, but you can always also wear high heels and wear the same dress at night. The majority of the collection would be based on those kinds of pieces. The idea is to be AM/PM.
Street artist Paul Insect was one of the first artists Cocurata has collaborated with for their debut collection.
An enlagement of one of Paul Insect's pieces printed on a tee.
The flecked textures visible in Paul Insect's art echoed in a jacquard textile.
Can you tell me a little bit about how the designer and curator relationship works?
They were looking at the designers who were doing collaborations with artists in fashion, the different brands that are inspired by art, even Bast does a lot of fashion collaborations (the latest being Marc Jacobs, for example). George Gorrow and Benias had known each other for a long time, they were always meeting up and they sat down together one day and they said, "That's what we need to do, that's where the gap in the market is. We need to have a brand that serves as a platform to exhibit their work through clothing." That's where Cocurata was born. The idea is to promote the artists through the collaborations and the clothing. The way it works is George Benias already has created a roster of 20-25 artists that will be working with us and all of those artists are street artists, urban contemporary artists. Every season, the George's get together and they select three artists and three artworks in total for the season. So Paul Insect, Bast and Rostarr are the three we are working with this season. Both of the George's and the artists have a lot of involvement in putting the collection together. The idea is that every season we will have three different artists and three different artworks; however, because those artists are from our same roster and are the same genre, the aesthetic of the brand is always going to be the same. We want to build that expectation of, "Who's going to be next? Which artwork is going to be next? What's Cocurata going to do with the artwork."
Graffiti artist Bast was another one of the trio of artists featured in Cocurata's Spring/Summer 2015 collection.
A blown up portion of a work by Bast featured on a T-shirt.
The final artist Cocurata collaborated on with this season was painter/filmmaker Rostarr.
A portion of Rostarr's artwork featured on a jersey tee.
So how does everything tie together then? Would it be through the silhouettes? How does it then all come together?
When the design team comes together to create the collection, they view the collection based on the artist's work, so each artist gets almost like their own capsule collection. However it's done in a way that it all merges together, because if you pull pieces from one artist's collection, you can easily merchandise it with another artist's collection. There are all these colours, silhouettes and shapes that flow nicely across all three artists and across three artworks. So the idea could be a print that connects with another print or a fabric development that then connects into another artwork. There will always be that synergy between the three artists. The idea is to build a brand where you don't necessarily have to buy into the artists, but that you're buying into the concept. We merchandise the collection in a way that it can be sold as a collection, not as capsule collections by artist. It all works very well together to create one cohesive collection.
The lines in Rostarr's work was translated into a 3D texture used throughout the Cocurata collection.
All of the T-shirts featuring the artists' works within each Cocurata collection will have a limited edition run of 300 pieces, with each piece numbered.
So tell me a little bit about each artist that Cocurata is working with this season.
So we have Paul Insect, who's from the UK. He's English and based in the UK but also has an established presence in New York. Cocurata is very much a New York brand; the majority of the artists on our roster are either from, based or established themselves in New York. Benias is based in NYC, Gorrow is between NYC and Asia, so it's very much a New York brand. Paul Insect used to be Banksy's right-hand man and one of his very first solo exhibitions was bought without ever even being seen by Damien Hirst. He's very satirical, he's got a political touch on everything he does. His work is also very bold so you see a lot of colours and shapes. Then we have Bast, he is one of the leaders of the street art movement. He was from the generation of Basquiat and all those guys. He's done a lot of collaborations with different fashion brands, he's very vocal about putting fashion and art together; he's done a collaboration with Marc Jacobs. A lot of the new street artists that come in often look to Bast for inspiration. Then, finally, we have Rostarr, who is originally Korean, but he is based in Brooklyn and established himself in New York. Having that Asian background, he's the master of calligraphy. His perfection and precision in terms of lines and forms is very impressive. So all of his artworks have beautiful calligraphy effects on it, and is extremely graphic.
With George Gorrow's strong denim background, it made sense to include a core denim collection within each Cocurata season with which you can mix-and-match the art-collaboration pieces.
How does the denim fit in?
The denim brings that street aspect to the brand. George Gorrow being George Gorrow, is the master of denim! If there's one thing that he's amazing at, it's denim. This season, we wanted to focus on the fashion, so the denim is limited to a few styles that we know there is a gap in the market for. They're a category within the collection that we're going to grow each season, but we're a fashion brand, not a denim brand. We're a fashion brand with a very strong denim category, so the denim will always be a very important part. In our look book, a lot of our pieces are styled with the denim, so that's how we see it fitting into the collection.