It’s here! No, we’re not talking a sun-soaked summer; we’re talking the Whitney Museum’s annual Art Party. This year it’s hosted by Theory‘s Olivier Theyskens and our very own Denise Incandela, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Saks Fifth Avenue. To celebrate, we turned the POV reins over to Theyskens. He decided on a chat with artist Scott Campbell, who’s on the host committee and a pretty spectacular tattoo artist to boot (he’s inked Marc Jacobs, Erin Wasson and, most recently, Johnny Depp). All we had to do is show up with a recorder in hand and listen in as the two dished the art world, tattoo virginity and fashion schedules. Here, your front-row seat to it all.
Scott Campbell: Neither of us went to art school and, all of a sudden, we’re involved with the Whitney Art Party. It’s funny.
Olivier Theyskens: I’m really happy to be a sponsor helping the event. When I started working here [at Theory], I felt like it was a great opportunity to really be involved in doing things. It’s very New York. Usually I’m not so close to anything happening in art.
O.T.: But I’ve been drawing all my life. I can say I have a good skill for drawing. I never took classes or anything like that.
S.C.: Drawing is the only thing I ever knew how to do. Like, I was just a dirty punk rock kid. I was always the one who would draw the band logos on everyone’s jacket. I got involved in tattoos from there.
O.T.: I am a tattoo virgin. I’d like to do a tattoo; they’re so intimate.
S.C.: It’s hard to pick the first one. Because if you have only one tattoo, it’s your whole identity. It’s a lot of pressure.
O.T.: I would do a fishbone on my back, but I think only for one year. So…maybe tattooing is not for me.
SC: I like tattooing because it’s very spontaneous and tailored for each person. Tattoos have no ambition to be in a museum. Whatever the emotional situation is, that’s what it’s for.
OT: But it represents so much.
S.C.: But that’s what I mean. It’s real and it’s visceral and…I love it. Obviously, there’s a very big parallel between tattooing and fashion—both are a way for people to decide who they want to be.
O.T.: A lot of times designers use a tattoo reference—Gaultier, Westwood. I think I never really did it. But at the same time, when we’re talking about prints, I can get really tattoo-ish. Talking about fashion and art, I feel there has been an evolution where people in the art world, in general, are more open to fashion being a place where artistic things are generated.
S.C.: For sure. The art world when I was a kid was always really intimidating. It was this institution that was very academic. In order to get in, you’d have to have this really good posture and use really big words. And then I moved to New York and met all these people who are hanging at the Whitney—you know, artists—and I realized that they’re just screw-up kids like me, like everyone else, which is cool. As a fashion designer, when you have to stick to show schedules….
O.T.: You think, OK, I know I have to do a collection every three to four months and then every six months, a show. You have to be so brainy and think of every activity in the company—it’s very difficult. Maybe in haute couture you can manage to have a clear, artistic voice. But the rest, you’re too much in a rush. You always have to work on a logistical situation. But maybe in art, artists are squeezed to produce, too. They get more successful so it’s like, do more, do more, do more! It’s very hard work. Maybe more than me.
S.C.: Everyone works differently. With fashion, you have to adhere to some sort of schedule. But with the art world, I think it’s different because there are no real rules.
SaksPOV: This might be a good time to segue to your black sock rule.
O.T.: A black sock?
S.C.: The one thing I’m loyal to in clothes is a black sock. My mom tells the story that when my dad came to her house for their first date and her brother answered the door, he said, “You can’t be taking my sister out wearing white socks. Go home and change.” So he did. And I’ve never worn white socks since.