Lynda Benglis and Magdalena Abakanowicz Sculptures Hit the Runway in Paris Fashion Shows

Judging by the last decade of Fashion Week offerings, visual art and couture clothing have never been cozier. Paris Fashion Week, which wraps tomorrow, proved that such collaborations are escalating from fabric styled after art to art exhibitions. 

Lynda Benglis, whose poured latex pieces can be seen in museums the world over, debuted six new large-scale bronze pieces on Loewe’s runway on September 29. Benglis rose to prominence in the ’60s for process-driven works and ended up finding a key place within feminist art history for a 1974 Artforum ad featuring herself holding a dildo to her nude body.

At the Loewe Spring/Summer ’24 show—which was attended by global editorial director of Vogue, Anna Wintour—sticky-looking clay sculptures and jewelry by Benglis were coiled around crisp, flowing capes and high-waisted trousers. Elongated, swirling sculptures hung in the air; from the pictures, they made a nice, unearthly effect. According to the Art Newspaper, the sculptures on display in the show included Black Widow (2021) and Yellow Tail (2020). Curator Andrew Bonacina, an art consultant for Loewe who managed the Benglis presentation, told the Art Newspaper that some had been in the works for years.

“To make the original forms she pushes the clay through an extruder to create soft lengths which she then twists to create the piece,” Bonacina said. “The enlargements show all of her manipulations; you can see her fingerprints and the torn edges of the clay. She is always interested in what materials can do so the works evidence the process.”

Elsewhere, at Alexander McQueen’s show, the runway featured woven sculptures by the late 20th-century artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. The presentation closely followed a retrospective on Abakanowicz at the Tate Modern; it heads to the Henie Onstad Art Center in Oslo this month.

Abakanowicz’s soft sculptures hung like celestial discs in a darkened room, distant and mysterious. The installation was overseen by Mary Jane Jacob, co-director of the Abakanowicz Arts and Culture Charitable Foundation. 

Among the sculptures on display was Abakan—Situation Variable (1970-71), a 13-foot-tall piece that was displayed for the first time in half a century at Tate, and Abakan Violet (1969), which until now had not been exhibited outside the United States.