NEW YORK — WHEN Prada invited a crowd of 600 to a party at its SoHo store -- and decorated the place with video monitors dripping digital blood set against a wallpaper of skulls, pills, praying hands and hourglasses -- it could mean only one thing: Damien Hirst was in the house.
Fresh off the sale of his diamond-encrusted platinum skull for a record (if suspect) $100 million, the normally reclusive artist emerged as the darling of New York Fashion Week, popping up all over the city and bringing his subversive style to wallpaper, disco balls and blue jeans.
At Prada, partygoers sipped bottles of Peroni and craned their necks toward the VIP lounge, where one of the strangest groups of the week had assembled: Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Vincent Gallo, Jeremy Piven, the Olsen twins and Hirst. When the British band the Hours took the stage for their stateside debut, a gigantic skull-shaped Hirst-designed disco ball caught the light, reminding everyone who the man behind the curtain was. (Hirst is also the man behind the band, being one of its financial backers.)
The next evening, a fashion-heavy crowd of editors and friends -- Thom Browne and Andre Balazs among them -- gathered at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea for the runway debut of Hirst's clothing collaboration with Levi Strauss. The line -- called Warhol Factory X Levi's X Damien Hirst and designed with Adrian Nyman -- will debut Jan. 15 in Barneys New York, priced from $100 to $4,000.
Some pieces were predictable -- black jeans with skulls in patent leather or crystals, silk dresses and waistcoats with death's-head designs and enough crosses and knives to equip the Crusades. Some were even conventional (for Hirst, anyway): super-skinny, zipper- and strap-covered denim bondage pants; denim corsets; Lurex striped party dresses.
And then there was the painted denim, which was actually remarkable. Hirst took some of the denim used to make 501s, stretched it onto a frame and did a spin art painting on it, said Robert Hanson, president of Levi Strauss North America. That denim was made into four pairs of jeans, two jackets and a skirt. One of each will remain in the Levi Strauss archives, with the remaining to be sold at private auction through Hirst.
And those jeans, it's safe to say, will be hung on the wall, not in the closet.