“I was contacted by the foundation, usually it’s me contacting the artists,” Simons said right after the show. “They wanted to see if these could be transported to another field or medium.”
The designer had access to the photographer’s complete archive and selected images from different periods of his career, including portraits of Patti Smith, self portraits, still lives which he translated into prints on oversize cotton shirts, apron tops and apron skirts layered over slim pants.
Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989, was celebrated for his questioning and merging of both good and bad taste, a dichotomy that can be seen in several nude self-portraits in the collection. His deep friendships are also represented in photos of Patti Smith, as well as Debbie Harry, Laurie Anderson, and various unknown subjects. Currently many of his work is on display in a massive Mapplethorpe retrospective at LACMA.