1980s street art and old school French tenniswear—a match made in heaven, right? In Brooklyn, anything is possible, and so it was last night at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, where French label Lacoste, inventors of the polo shirt, universally recognizable by the smiling crocodile logo, launched an apparel collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation, which represents the late artist’s estate. In a surprise flourish, Lacoste also unveiled a seminal–and nearly lost–mural by Haring, which they have arranged to be loaned from a private collection and re-introduced for public display.
The star of the show was the 40,000-pound, 20-by-20-foot mural, painted in 1987 on a cinder block wall that once stood at a Boys' Club of New York facility on Pitt Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. When the building housing the club was demolished in 2007, several institutional collectors declined offer of the artwork due to the logistics and expense involved in preserving and moving it. The mural was saved at the last minute, but for the next decade it remained out of public view in a private collection. Lacoste has undertaken the challenge of finding a venue for its display as well as transporting the delicate artwork to its temporary home at Pioneer Works, a nonprofit artist space that seeks to build community through public arts, in keeping with Haring’s vision of eschewing traditional arts institutions.
The new line by Lacoste features hats, sweatshirts, shorts, and swimsuits—as well as the famous polo—emblazoned with Haring’s trademark hearts, dancing stick men, and barking dogs. The graphic, primary colored shapes, outlined in black, resonate well with the label’s simple but colorful aesthetic. Respect for the source is obvious and the collaboration feels authentic in light of the value placed on community and public art.
View the mural at Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer St, Brooklyn, NY, where it will be on display through May 14th. Admission is free. Find the clothing collection from March 27th online at lacoste.com or in select Lacoste retail locations.