Suit As A Canvas: Kehinde Wiley’s Awesome Tailoring

June 9, 2015

Suit as a Canvas: Kehinde Wiley’s Awesome Tailoring

You know artist Kehinde Wiley’s work when you see it: vividly toned portraits of people of color in classical settings or against intricately detailed backgrounds (WIley also works in sculpture and stained glass). At a time when a lot of people write off modern visual art as overly conceptual, requiring an art degree to properly appreciate, Wiley’s work is stunningly beautiful, without compromising the meaningfulness of placing his subjects in settings reserved, in the history of western art, primarily for white people.

Likewise you’d recognize Wiley’s suits when you see them. He sources colorful fabrics from all over the world to use as source material for his backgrounds, and sometimes those fabrics make their way into his tailored wardrobe; allegedly he has over 100 suits, some made by a Beijing tailor and some by Ron and Ron, a New York outfit. He usually wears a simple black shirt to complement the brightly patterned suitings. The takeaway is to let your life influence your wardrobe and not be afraid of standing out sometimes–whether that’s adding accessories picked up in your globe-trotting or letting some painterly qualities into your suit fabric choices.

A successful painter can get away with wearing whatever he wants (just ask Picasso). But if you’re looking for something more broadly available in the same spirit as Wiley’s suits, you might consider Ikire Jones.