Sydney Albertini: An Artist Above All

Sydney Albertini: An Artist Above All

Joey Polino

“I don’t think fashion can be art. I think fashion can be inspired by art. But I think fashion serves a purpose which is very different from art.” – Sydney Albertini

Parisian-American artist Sydney Albertini transitions from fine art to fashion with her first ready-to-wear line, SydneyToWear. Partnered with “luxury fashion incubator” LuxCartel, Albertini presented her line during New York Fashion Week in an event at the Upper East Side boutique FiveStory New York. Described by the artist as an “art experience,” the project is called Sydney Albertini: “…and also I have no idea.” Whatever you call it, we like it, and it both challenges and balances on the line between art and fashion.

So much about this project is about both blending and creating lines. Albertini made a fashion line, SydneyToWear SS14, and also an art exhibit at the Parrish Art Museum in East Hampton, where she lives and works. The site was the late painter John Little’s former home and studio, where she created a “quasi-theater set.” This was an interactive work, in which visitors were encouraged to try on Albertini’s costumes and soft sculptures and then photographed. The artist has inhabited the worlds of art and ready-to-wear, commerce and theater, America and France.

The inspiration to explore ready-to-wear fashion came primarily from her experience growing up between America and Paris. For Albertini, one of the most basic pieces of clothing in American culture is the crewneck sweatshirt. However, according to her, “The French didn’t really do that, and I thought it was bizarre because here in one country where I live it’s a basic thing, and in another it’s seen as—people would never wear this.”

The concept of SydneyToWear lies in this blending of two cultures through fashion. Albertini takes a basic article of clothing from American culture and infuses it with “a bit of French sophistication, with all of its intricacies and more modern edge.” She describes her philosophy as the juxtaposition of avant-garde and back-to-basics. She aims to move the concept of a basic piece of clothing forward by introducing it to the rules of another culture– without losing its basic comfort and style.

Albertini’s greatest inspiration in fashion is culture. “I’m inspired by lots of different patterns from different nations and eras,” she told OOO. “The 1930s had amazing partners. And I love African textiles and primitive work.”

The shift from art to fashion isn’t so dramatic for Albertini, who has always combined different mediums in her work. She has made a career painting, drawing, making films and now clothing. Her films, which she calls “self-portraits,” include textiles of her own creation. “I’ve always made my own clothes, since I was 12 years old. I’d make them from scratch or completely transform something,” she said.

SydneyToWear and her event Sydney Albertini: “…and also I have no idea,” is based on five characters she refers to as a woman’s emotion. Each character is depicted along with a piece of fine art. Ultimately, a piece of ready-to-wear clothing announces the entire line.

Should we see this as a moment of permanent change for the artist? Albertini has no hesitation in her response: “I am an artist first and foremost and always will be. I don’t believe the word artist should limit itself to fine arts. I think being an artist is a way of life. I’m limited only by what I make with my hands.”

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