Art Basel
Art Basel

Art Basel Style Guide: Where to Go & What to Wear

Words by Jody Hume | 12.2.14
Between curated exhibitions, performance art pieces and well-dressed party attendees, there’s inspiration around every corner at Miami’s Art Basel. The annual art fair has turned into a wintertime oasis for urbanites and the high-caliber clientele of the art world; but with over 250 leading galleries in participation, how does one whittle down the multitude of events to the top tier? Read on for recommendations from our Senior Fine Art Specialist, Brittany Gersh — plus, Basel-worthy ensembles to wear to each.

1. Performa/Interview Magazine Party


Performance Artist Ryan McNamara
Performance Artist Ryan McNamara
The two giants are combining forces on December 2 for an invite-only soiree at the newly opened Thompson Miami Beach Hotel that’s certain to be the talk of the It crowd. “Interview  magazine was started by Andy Warhol, and in following his legacy, it continues to publish provocative articles related to art and culture,” notes Gersh. “While Performa is an organization dedicated to supporting performance art — the director, RoseLee Goldberg is a pioneer.” (Performa is also hosting Ryan McNamara’s buzzy MEEM 4 MIAMI performance, which takes place later in the week.) Expect interesting people watching, thought-provoking conversation and reportedly a surprise musical guest, as you mingle with the who’s-who.
What To Wear: For this crowd of trailblazing artists and cutting-edge performers, select a slightly avant-garde ensemble with edgy accessories.

Preen DressBalenciaga HeelChanel CC Earrings
Hermès Medor Clutch



2. The Kabinett Sector


Robert Wilson's Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga The Death of Marat, 2013
Courtesy: Robert Wilson/Galerie Thomas Schulte
“As exciting as it is to see art done in new ways with new media, it is equally inspiring to look back at moments in art history from a different perspective,” says Gersh. “Kabinett is a new sector at Art Basel which investigates culture and politics through those seminal moments.” Among the displays: a video portrait by artist Robert Wilson which features Lady Gaga as Jean-Paul Marat in a nod to Jacques-Louis David’s famous portrait. “Something doesn’t sit well for me when portraying a staunch journalist who died for his cause as a pop singer who wears dresses made out of meat to promote individualism,” notes Gersh. “Any good art should provoke a reaction, and this piece in particular leaves me thinking about it again and again.”
What To Wear: Since the Kabinett sector fuses innovative art with inspiration from the old masters, meld contemporary designers with veteran fashion houses and modern shapes with classic design like we’ve done here with a 3.1 Phillip Lim dress and timeless Hermès Birkin bag.

3.1 Phillip Lim DressHermès Green Birkin BagCeline SandalCeline Cuff


3. Theo Jansen’s Sculptural Beach Display


Theo Jansen Sculpture
Courtesy: Flickr @Strandbeest

DVF Dress

File this one under “Only In Art Basel.” From December 4-7, Dutch artist Theo Jansen is unleashing his “Strandbeest” sculptures on Miami Beach, including his 42-foot long Animaris Suspendisse. The colossal structures — which are propelled by wind power —  are created with recycled materials making the pieces not only a fascinating specimen of engineering but also green. Take a reprieve from indoor galleries, and hit the beach to absorb their surprisingly majestic beauty.
What To Wear: Put an artistic spin on standard beach essentials for a look that’s laid-back and partly playful. A graphic maxi paired with printed retro-look sunglasses does the trick.

Stella McCartney SunglassesEugenia Kim HatProenza Schouler Clutch







4. The Annual Art Basel Brunch


Sagamore Hotel Pool
Courtesy: The Sagamore
Two Whales (With People), John Baldessari
Two Whales (With People), John Baldessari
One of the longest-running events of Art Basel, the exclusive annual brunch at the Sagamore (AKA “The Art Hotel”) has been welcoming gallery owners, collectors and artists since 2001. The hotel partners with seven local museums to host the event which also features an exhibit so you can sip mimosas while you better your cultural education. On tap this year is Screen Play: Moving Image Art, a collection of works from artists including John Baldessari, Alex Hubbard, Lawrence Weiner and Merce Cunningham.
What To Wear: Since you’ll be poolside by the hotel’s palm tree-lined lagoon, try a modern update on a tropical staple — the Hawaiian shirt — with a bold floral print blouse. Sculptural accessories in soft shades complete the fashion-forward and feminine look.

Prada ShirtBalenciaga PantProenza Schouler SandalsProenza Schouler Clutch5. NADA

NADA Art BaselFor an alternative to the Art Basel scene, consider this “Anti-Art Basel” fair which has been attracting visitors since 2002. “NADA sticks out as a fair that’s always on the cutting edge,” says Gersh. “While Basel is all about profit — dealers reportedly sold a combined total of $100 million last year — the New Art Dealer’s Association is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting emerging gallerists and artists.” That means you’ll get a first glimpse at art’s most fascinating up-and-comers, making this fair a must.
Peter Pilotto DressWhat To Wear: Since NADA focuses on rising artists, opt for a younger designer who has burst onto the scene in recent years, like this Peter Pilotto dress which is just as vibrant and energetic as NADA itself.

Hermès Evelyne II PM Marni BangleYSL Sandal

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