The Art of Lingerie: Jean Michel Basquiat

Jean Michel Basquiat is a unique an interesting artist and one who isn’t necessarily an expected choice to pair with lingerie. His work is hard, aggressive– nowhere near the frillies that lingerie is usually associated with. Basquiat got his start in graffiti art, and that influence is apparent throughout his work.

Jean Michel Basquiat, Head, 1981


Clockwise, from left to right:

Deco Skull Camisole by Honey Cooler Handmade, $275

Leather Short Fringe Slip by Jenny Packham, $725

Crown Headband by Chromat, $63

Sabel Underwire Longline Bra by Lonely Hearts, $118

Silk Crepe Printed Bralette by La Fée Verte, $60

Basquiat focused on dichotomies and contradictions, often using his work to provide social commentary on contemporary injustices, particularly racism and other dominant power structures. I tried to find lingerie that was somehow unexpected, strong or graphic, perhaps a faint echo of Basquiat’s powerful visual language. The crown by Chromat seemed like a piece that had to be included as Basquiat himself frequently used imagery of crowns in his work, focused on portraying ‘heroic’ figures.

Jean Michel Basquiat, Leeches, 1983


Basquiat3Clockwise, from left to right:

Skull Harness by Zana Bayne, $525

Restricted Cone Bra by Atsuko Kudo Latex, £173.34

Jet Bra, Suspender and Ouvert by Agent Provocateur, $580

Upcycled Begonia Soft Bra by Yelena Buck $124.24

Atame! Halter Triangle Bra by ID Sarrieri $192

When I saw Zana Bayne’s skull harness, I knew it was a perfect piece to include in this collection, reminiscent as it is of the heads that Basquiat so often portrays. In fact, Basquiat got inspiration from Gray’s Anatomy text, a book given him by his mother at age 7. I think the Atsuko Kudo bra is a fantastic addition, because of both the color and the distinctive shape. Although this painting predates Madonna’s 1990 Blonde Ambition tour and her distinctive Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra by 7 years, Madonna and Basquiat actually dated around this period, so I feel like the little nod to her is fitting.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Philistines, 1982


Basquiat1Clockwise, from left to right:

Skeleton Harness by Zana Bayne, $1,125

Limoncello Boudoir Bra by Fleur of England, $106

Valentina Bodysuit by Hopeless, $300

Pavane Half Cup Bra by Huit, $34.50

Howling Wolves by FRKS, $35

I chose these pieces because they each had an element that seemed consistent with Basquiat’s work. The overlapping and interweaving pieces of the Hopeless bodysuit seemed consistent with the many layers of Basquiat’s work. The sketchy quality of the embroidery of the FRKS knickers is similar to Basquiat’s loose line quality. Although you might not expect Fleur of England on this list, the pure hue of the yellow bra and the bold lines of the straps make it so appropriate.

Although I very much enjoy matching lingerie to artist, I sometimes wonder if I’m trivializing their work in the comparison. As much a I love lingerie, it doesn’t possess the level of social commentary that these artworks can transmit. And yet, I like to think of this as a small homage to these great artists– and maybe a way to re-look at lingerie and the inspirations and influences that created these pieces.

  1. Thanks so much for this interesting post! I very much appreciate your artistic and intellectual approach to lingerie and how you often relate it to other forms of art as well as different aspects of our lives.

    Personally I don’t think art is being trivialized when compared or inspired by others, regardless of the different mediums. Once it is out there in the public domain anyone can dice and slice it the way they choose. I also suspect that most artists are actually intrigued finding out the different emotions and reactions their creations evoke.

  2. More people need to connect fine art to the rest of life. Lingerie is artistic so your comparison isn’t off-base. I’d like to see other artists treated this way.

  3. Thank you for this article ! I also appreciate the way you relate lingerie creations to famous artists. Fashion is a form of art after all, even if it includes a commercial aspect. I like when blogs open up to broader, sometimes deeper subjects. It reveals your obsession of lingerie of course but foremost your sensitivity to everything that is beautiful and emotional. It is your own artistic creation !
    So please don’t stop :)


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