Net-a-Porter has added fine art to its luxury mix, starting with exclusive editions by Guy Bourdin, “the god of fashion photography”
Net to wear is known for delivering a tight edit of all things fashion, beauty and lifestyle straight to the doorsteps of its global “EIPs” – who would be extremely important people – with same day service, in a black box signature attached with a bow.
From now on, the luxury e-merchant is launching into the fine arts. In partnership with AP8a new art e-commerce platform, curates series of museum-quality single-artist prints to be dropped off in limited editions on Net-a-Porter.
“Our goal is to provide the same level of world-class curation and expertise that is synonymous with all of our purchases,” Lea Cranfield, the company’s director of purchasing and merchandising, said in a statement. And yes: the art also comes with same-day service.
“You get a lot of confidence when you discover new designers on Net-a-Porter – it has their stamp of approval,” said AP8 curator Viola Raikhel. The goal of the partnership, she added, “is to make [buying] fine art and photography are as accessible as online luxury and fashion retail.
With his London art consultancy 1858 Ltd., Raikhel consulted clients from the Venice Biennale and the Sotheby’s Institute to Louis Vuitton. She co-founded AP8 with her 1858 partner Harvey Mendelson and Paul Rapaport, who previously worked in-house for luxury brands such as Moncler.
The add-to-cart ease and seamless transactions of online shopping “have never been available in the art world,” Raikhel said. “So essentially we’re creating collectors from a whole new audience of fashionistas, who might not have had access to auction houses and dealers or the knowledge to be able to transact on the art market.”
AP8 will hold IRL exhibitions – two to four a year, each highlighting a single artist – to coincide with its drops in the so-called “art room.” It launched this month with a collection of 10 prints from the late great Guy Bourdineach offered in an edition of 99.
“Guy Bourdin, being the god of fashion photography, seemed like a natural fit,” Raikhel said. “He elevated it to art.”
Bourdin (1928–1991) shot campaigns for brands such as Chanel and Charles Jourdan while regularly contributing to French vogue from 1955 to the 1980s, creating colorful photos notable for their eerie, narrative tableaux. Influenced by Alfred Hitchcock and Man Ray – who compiled the catalog for Bourdin’s first solo exhibition – his surrealistic works are in the collections of institutions such as MoMA, the Getty and Tate Modern.
Having never sold the artist’s works through e-commerce, the Guy Bourdin estate has agreed to license a selection of photographs to Net-a-Porter via AP8, which follows strict printing protocols used by best auction houses, museums and galleries.
The estate oversaw the proofing of each print, each verified by a type of shorthand cryptography only detectable by scanning. Meanwhile, a certification code registered with the buyer is linked to a unique digital watermark hidden in the print to provide a record of provenance and value.
To avoid affecting the value of artwork sold in galleries and at auction, once these prints are sold – in frames handcrafted from Italian chestnut wood – they will never be published again.
“[We] tried to find ways to meet the demands of Bourdin lovers who could not afford [his] works, not wanting them to find unauthorized, poor quality posters or questionable prints,” said Frédéric Arnal, director of the estate. “In this way, the estate broadens its audience and participates in the training of a new generation of collectors.”
Below, see the photographs that Bourdin took for VogueParis in the 1970s and 1980s, available to purchase as prints through Net-a-Porter ($1,865); they’re also available in larger frames through AP8 (starting at $3,200), along with 20 additional Bourdin prints in limited editions.
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