In the name of unabashed joy and fun, Coach has launched their new collaboration with the late pop artist Tom Wesselmann.
The global campaign shot by Juergen Teller features performance poet, trans-visibility activist and model-of-the-moment Kai-Isaiah Jamal, who speaks exclusively with BAZAAR.com on the partnership, as well as Transparent actress Hari Nef and Japanese model and actress Manami Kinoshita.
The collection is a fusion of fine art and fashion at its most playful. The New York-based fashion house has taken Coach classics, such as Rogue and duffel bags and shearling jackets, and adorned them with some of Wesselmann’s best-known illustrations and prints. The trainer’s creative director, Stuart Vevers, worked closely with the late artist’s family and estate to secure the rights to the artwork.
“Like my collections for Coach, Tom Wesselmann’s work is inspired by the extraordinary of everyday life and the universal references that bring us together,” says Vevers. “Sensory and joyful, our collaboration is a tribute to the sense of fun Tom found in the creative process. I am deeply honored to have worked with his family to bring him to life, and proud to share his work with a new generation. .”
Standout pieces include a tan and brown combat boot in Coach’s signature jacquard, adorned with a pair of sequined red lips. The sensual lips motif also appears on a varsity jacket, various leather bags, a key ring and jewelry. Wesselmann’s iconic red lips smoking a cigarette—Smoker, 1 (Mouth, 12)—adorn a chic ivory bucket bag. A lipstick still life also makes an appearance as an abstract artwork on a leather pouf, as well as a white denim miniskirt.
Wesselmann’s infamous Seascape #22– a leg with a pointed toe in the front with an ocean and horizon behind – works as the print on a beige wristlet clutch, black crew neck and fuzzy cream colored shearling jacket.
“It’s fun, it’s playful, it’s the 1960s blending into the present. It’s history and proven quality,” Jamal said. BAZAAR.
Wesselmann’s trippy body studies, sculptural smoke paintings, and luminous, sultry, surreal works provide a stark contrast to Coach’s muted tans and sleek silhouettes, but the marriage of the two is surprisingly delicious and very of the moment.
“We need something that takes us away from the everyday mundane,” Jamal says of the extraordinary. “We need something out of the ordinary or wonderfully weird; these are the things that fuel us in uncertain times. Sometimes the best medicine is to laugh or see a huge daffodil the size of a home and just smile.”
In their conversation with BAZAAR, Jamal reveals that Wesselmann’s take on nudity as a still life, as well as the way he played with size and shape, reflects how they often feel about their own bodies.
“I think as someone who struggles with their own figure or the idea of their own nudity, their work is empowering. You look at Abandonment of the seascape and Face #5 and the sensual and suggestive gaps very much reflect how I feel about certain parts of my body. Vacancy, censorship or restraint are all themes that come into play in his work,” says Jamal. “Besides size and proportion, I like a world where I can feel like the biggest in the room or the smallest thing in the world. “
In the collaboration’s campaign film, Jamal, which the late designer Virgil Abloh has
called “the voice of a generation” – reads an original poem, “The Pursuit of Pleasure”, inspired by the work of Wesselmann.
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The Coach x Tom Wesselmann collection will be available to shop at pop-ups and store redemptions worldwide starting tomorrow, June 29.
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