NEW YORK — When designer Lisa Perry walked into her eponymous Madison Avenue boutique last Thursday evening, the white sequined shift dress she wore appeared stark and devoid of color, until she whirled around to show off the digital print of Jeff Koons’s 1988 porcelain sculpture “Pink Panther” emblazoned on its back. Koons’s wife, Justine Koons, walked around to greet guests sporting what appeared to be a simple, chic white moto jacket over a black dress. But a view from behind revealed the artist’s 1986 stainless steel sculpture “Rabbit.”
The playful frocks were two of many being celebrated that night at a cocktail party and intimate dinner hosted by the artist and W magazine editor Stefano Tonchi. The event marked the debut of Perry’s latest art-inspired collection, which features Koons’s work. (Perry has also created lines covered with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein images.)
“He gave us full access to his entire body of work,” Perry said of Koons in a statement about the collection. “It was more inspiration than I could have ever dreamed of!”
Some of the other pieces were a bit more obvious. A strapless white confection with a frilly textured skirt displayed the cherry-topped dollop of whipped cream in a spoon from Koons’s poppy 1999 collage print “Loopy,” while the another, an A-line skirted short-sleeved dress, was covered entirely in the kooky 2007 “Monkey Train (Birds)” screenprint. Those not daring enough to wear a garment bearing a prominently-placed Koons could choose from several accessories: two bangles, one blanketed with “Loopy” and the other, the “Monkey Train (Birds)” print; or a clear plastic bag like the one depicting the Koons green “Diamond” sculpture that sits on Perry’s penthouse terrace.
Perry is the latest in a string of designers to show affection for Koons’s work. Stella McCartney printed Koons graphics on a few pieces in her spring/summer 2006 collection, even collaborating with Koons on a “Rabbit” pendant. Basso & Brooke also referenced Koons’s wildly whimsical pieces through digital printing in its spring/summer 2010 line. The feeling is mutual: Koons has had a long-running flirtation with fashion, most recently shooting an editorial for the September 2011 issue of Harper’s Bazaar and writing the foreword for Patrick Demarchelier’s stunning coffee table book “Dior Couture.”
Perry’s collection, which is available at her boutique and on her Web site, doesn’t come cheap. Accessories start at $295, while T-shirts, dresses, and jackets retail from $150 to $4,500. But shoppers shouldn’t feel guilty about a hefty purchase: a portion of the price tag will go to the organization Koons founded after his son became a victim of parental kidnapping, the Koons Family Institute, an initiative of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Click on the slide show to see Lisa Perry’s Jeff Koons-inspired collection.