Last Wednesday, a vacant warehouse in the Meatpacking district was transformed into a modern day disco for the kickoff of alice + olivia (with founder/creative director, Stacey Bendet) and artist David Choe’s new philanthropic venture, the Kindness Project. Inside the warehouse stood a variable feast for the eyes as partygoers were treated to a blast from the past, psychedelic 60s style. Models with blonde bob wigs and oversized round glasses were painted head-to-toe by Choe in vibrant glow-in-the-dark body paint. To the right, an alice + olivia gown painted in Choe’s “A Woman And A Monkey” (the official symbol of the Kindness Project) hung from the ceiling amidst a gaggle of silver disco balls. Close by stood the bar bustling with specialty cocktails enjoyed by a who’s who of the NYC social scene including celebs: Maxwell, Nicky Hilton and Selita Ebanks. DJ Hannah Bronfman kept the party upbeat and there was even a burlesque performer by the name of Hazel Honeysuckle.
I had a chance to chat with Stacey and David about how they started working together for the Kindness Project, the inspiration behind the project and of course, David’s one of a kind beaded red suit.
Joy Adaeze: How did you and David come to collaborate for The Kindness Project?
Stacey Bendet: David and I met and I fell in complete love with his watercolor paintings, which I think are some of the most beautiful pieces of work that exist right now. We were talking about doing something together and he would send me these paintings and in each one I just saw dresses coming out! So, I would look at his paintings and see like 5 prints, 10 dresses and I would go crazy! Each one more beautiful than the last. When David showed me that painting [of “A Woman and a Monkey”] I said I want to make a gown of it but I want to bead the entire thing, which is what’s hanging up there. And I said I think this should be the global image of kindness because this woman just looks so beautiful. It inspired us to start alice + olivia’s philanthropic mission, the Kindness Project. Tonight is it’s launch and also the launch of our collaboration of these beautiful gowns and dresses. This dress (points to her gown) is actually the bottom of the “A Woman and a Monkey” painting. This is a print we created out of one little part. I think the whole concept of being able to share positivity, creativity and kindness around the world is something that we are both in a place in our career that we want to do.
JA: David, what inspired you to create “A Woman and a Monkey”?
David Choe: Everyone always associates me with graffiti even thought I haven’t done it since I was 15. And probably the hardest medium is watercolor because it’s unforgivable. There’s no mistakes. So, I spend almost all my time doing watercolor. I love women and I love monkeys. There’s not really much to it besides that. When I paint or do anything I try not to think too much. I don’t do any sketching, I don’t use any reference, I don’t plan anything and that’s exactly how I live my life also. I also don’t spend a lot of time on painting either. Not long. I never spend more than 2-3 days.
JA: Any collaborations in the future between you two?
SB: Oh yeah, I think we’ll work together again! Our latest collaboration was today when I decided to rhinestone David’s suit. I said ‘You can’t wear that like that’! We had like 4 interns gluing stones to it!
Catch alice + olivia x Daivd Choe’s collaboration out Spring 2014.
Images courtesy of alice + olivia