Scroll through Jury Schiavi’s Instagram and you’ll see Mona Lisa serving Mugler realness, Andromeda sacrificed in McQueen, and Saint Sebastian depicted as a Berghain regular
Where Kim Jones’s first Pre-AW19 Dior show offered us a glimpse of the future – with its cyborg-esque models, futuristic tailoring, and an actual robot that stood at the centre of the runway – one artist was looking at the collection from an entirely different perspective.
Taking key pieces from the line-up – a form-fitting grey turtleneck bearing an ergonomic reimagining of the Dior logo, and a stand-out metal Saddle bag – Milan-based Jury Schiavi (aka @juryslaves) inserted them into Benjamin West’s painting “Thetis bringing the Armour to Achilles” (1804), and, in the process, clashed Jones’s vision of the future with fragments of the past. Clearly he was doing something right, given the Dior artistic director himself re-posted the image on his personal account soon after.
“I was completely thrilled when I saw the notification saying Kim had liked the post,” explains Schiavi. “You never expect that someone so famous and so talented would interact with an Instagram account that, based on pure interest, doesn’t have that much of a following. I loved the collection from start to finish, especially the Sorayama references in it, so I felt I had to work with it somehow. He has a visionary way of making something as cold and stiff as metal become a hot and sexual object, which really resonates with me.”
While much of Schiavi’s work centres around fashion – previous posts have seen “The Birth of Venus” reimagined with a Gucci twist, Andromeda sacrificed in Alexander McQueen, and a depiction of Mona Lisa serving some hot Mugler realness – it’s actually fetishwear that features the most prominently in his unique reinterpretations. And what might come as a surprise is that, despite the disparity between the context in which they’re depicted and the introduction of the leather harnesses, jock-straps, and strap-ons Schiavi favours, the subjects rarely look out of place wearing their kinky new additions.
“I love that they become something new entirely when I’ve worked on them,” says Schiavi of the updated artworks. “It’s a way of injecting new life into classic, not so well-known, and even forgotten art pieces and bringing them to new audiences. I’m always coming across paintings I don’t know a thing about and I love discovering the plot behind them and shaking it at the roots. For example, I took Merry-Joseph Blundel’s “The Death of Hyacinthus”, which depicts a really tragic moment, and, by adding in fetish wear, the context completely changed – instead of a death, it became a sex scene full of passion and drama.”
Next on the list of designers Schiavi wants to feature within his artworks are pieces by Alexander Wang and more from Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s erotically-charged collections, but he lists the likes of John Galliano, Iris Van Herpen, and Rick Owens among his most-loved designers. “My all time favourite above anyone else – who forever will be – is Thierry Mugler, though. The Chimera, in my eyes, is the most beautiful dress ever made.”
Who are we likely to see wearing that at some point in the future? “I’m not sure yet, but Saint Sebastian is my favourite subject to work on. Some think the moment of his death represents a sort of metaphor for the persecution of gay people and minorities (which is a very dear theme to me). Not to mention the fact that he’s hot in almost every painting he’s depicted in…”