"I think the idea of combining street art with high fashion is so much fun," said designer Naeem Khan in the moments before his fall 2015 runway presentation. "[Graffiti artists] are always on the run, doing things like hiding from police and running from society and they are under a time restraint. I think fashion is the same way. 'Project Runway,' project street art."
To celebrate ten years showing in New York City and his last show at Lincoln Center, Khan brought in Miami-based artist Trek6 to paint a 20 by 26 foot mural late Monday night. "He sent me a reference of a piece of work I'd already done and said he really liked it," said Trek6, who has been working with Khan's wife Ranjana on a collaborative art piece over the past year. "We chose to go with an aesthetic that was still rough, very much a typical New York graffiti look." The resulting blue canvas was full of lines, spray marks and graffiti writing of the designer's name.
Trek6 completed the majority of the piece on Monday night in under three hours as the rest of the runway was being prepared for Tuesday's afternoon presentation. The artist used a 14 foot ladder to reach the highest parts of the stretched out canvas, which was somewhat precarious as the floor below was being assembled. "I had to hold on really good," he said, reenacting the swaying ladder. Khan says adaptability was a main reason he chose a graffiti artist for this project. "I had to find someone who could do it with all the restrictions we have," said the designer. "And I felt like these guys could do it better than anybody else because they are used to working under restrictive conditions. What he's done in two hours is going to freak you out."
Trek6 got the audience's attention as he added a few final brushstrokes to the piece on the runway, minutes before the models came out. The result stood in stark contrast to the sophisticated embroidered red carpet gowns that made up Khan's collection, and it certainly set the show apart in the middle of the crowded fashion week.
"Back in the day, they would christen boats by breaking the glass on the hull," said Trek6. "So thats what I'm going to do, christen it." Khan was clearly pleased with the result — he plucked the artist from his seat after the finale and they bowed together in front of the bright blue canvas.
See Naeem Khan's fall 2015 collection below.