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From Diesel to Dior, Art Basel 2019 Was a Hotbed for Creative Brand Activations

The international art fair held annually in Miami, Art Basel has become a cultural destination to celebrate art, music, fashion and more. Each year, creatives organize exhibitions, interactive shows and other thought-provoking experiences—and denim labels are using the opportunity to position their brands in new ways.

From Levi’s to Fendi, designers flexed their creative muscles at Miami Art Basel 2019.

Levi’s unveiled Haus Miami, a pop-up for premium items and artist-led customization. Through Feb. 29, the pop-up offers a Tailor Shop, unique artist collaborations and other interactive experiences. The space is uniquely designed, with two levels of bold designs and decorations.

Diesel—which recently promoted its latest venture into Miami real estate—opened a “gift shop” in partnership with sneaker retailer Bodega. The activation features pieces from Bodega’s private label, products from the Diesel Red Tag x A-Cold-Wall capsule collection and a line of stone-washed basketball shorts designed by streetwear designer Eric Emanuel, as well as limited-edition products from a number of artists and designers.

But the activation wasn’t just a place to feature items—it also provided quirky experiences such as denim customization, manicures and even free tattoos.

“This type of exercise is more of a communication and marketing tool than anything else,” Stefano Rosso, CEO of Diesel North America, told Complex. “Today, customers don’t really expect to go to a store to see simply product. They want to have an experience. So, we try to deliver an experiential moment where you find out the brand is there, but it’s almost the last step of your journey.”

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Prps used the event to promote its latest collaboration with Candiani and hip-hop photographer Jonathan Mannion. The limited-edition collection of hoodies and jackets combines art, fashion and music, and each piece features an iconic Mannion photograph printed on Candiani denim using Jeanologia’s laser technology. The collection was unveiled at a party at TheArsenale.

For another event, Scotch & Soda kept the drinks flowing at a party where attendees could bring in their denim to be enhanced with custom artwork. Artist William Tyler Story provided the designs, which were inspired by modern-day street art.

Dior used the opportunity to host a men’s 2020 show complete with fireworks and a slew of A-list celebrities. The show was led by designer Kim Jones and formerly retired Stüssy designer Shawn Stussy, and Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, Kate Moss and others were in attendance. The brand, which had never before hosted a men’s fashion show in the U.S., also used the opportunity to debut its collaboration with Air Jordan.

Balenciaga caught everyone’s attention—and not just because of a surprise appearance from Hadid. At its installation at Design Miami, the brand collaborated with artist Harry Nuriev to shine a spotlight on sustainability. The artist created a sofa made of discarded Balenciaga clothing, nodding to the industry’s move toward circular design.

Also sparking conversation was Spanish fashion brand Desigual, which commissioned artist Carlota Guerrero for an edgy performance entitled “Love Different.” Lourdes Leon, Madonna’s daughter, was one of many models who entered the stage in the brand’s garments before removing them and simulating an orgy.

Fendi’s presence at Art Basel was also provocative—for the senses. At the Fendi boutique in Miami’s Design District, the brand introduced its FendiFrenesia Baguette, a scented leather bag that comes with a vial of matching perfume. The bag, which is available in two different sizes, is a collaboration between Fendi, Canadian artist Christelle Boulé, and perfumer Francis Kurkdjian.