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Raf Simons has chosen to share his label, and the design credit, with a fine artist: Robert Mappelthorpe. Last time it was a collaboration with Sterling Ruby. The Mapplethorpe Foundation sent him an email. An excerpt from the Vogue interview… How did the collaboration with the Mapplethorpe Foundation first come about? How did they approach you?
They sent an email to me. It came quite unexpectedly, I have to say. I was thinking about things for the show—I can’t say what they are, because it’s something I will work on—but I had his name on a list in my research. He and some other people were on the list. But immediately by Mapplethorpe, I put, “not possible.” I would not approach them, even if I had a strong interest. I do not have fear to approach people usually, but one way or another, it was—I can’t approach Mapplethorpe! I can’t approach the Foundation. And very close to that—maybe only a week or two weeks in between—I get this email.
I reacted immediately, because at first I didn’t understand exactly what they meant. I know what they have done—they have done a lot of shows with other people, like Cindy Sherman, David Hockney, Hedi Slimane. All these people have curated shows in galleries; they let them in the archive to select work and then they have a show. That was so not in my interest. That is the thing I thought they were reaching out to me about. But it wasn’t at all like that. They were very informed about what I did with Sterling and they were very interested to see if I would do something that strongly relates to my label, to my collections, to my fashion shows. It went really fast. I said, “Let’s start right away.” I think they thought, “Maybe, we need to start communication, and let’s see in a couple of months . . .” I felt, as it was already linked to something I wanted to do anyway, it would be nice to skip the whole thing and just focus on that.
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