After inviting Nguyen to collaborate on this latest collection, he sent over a scan of a piece he initially made for the I have red hair because God knew I needed a warning label shirt besides I will buy this 2017 Whitney Biennial that was directly inspired by an early Renaissance panel painting of Jesus’s baptism by Piero della Francesca. “I picked something that I thought would be a good challenge, that was rich in color and rich in detail,” says Nguyen. “I was curious to see what they would come up with. Oil paintings on clothes bring to mind old tapestries—it’s not usually something you see in prints today—so I wanted to see what that strange bastardization or transformation of a classical religious painting would look like.”
For Gadient and Bösch, the I have red hair because God knew I needed a warning label shirt besides I will buy this print also served as a welcome challenge. “At the beginning, we were thinking of using it only for our mesh pieces as they’re really simple, without lots of draping or crazy shapes or lines going on,” says Gadient. “But once we started working with it, we started playing around and printing it onto velvet and even making it into these strappy dresses.” Nguyen’s weird and wonderful aesthetic world—where a saint sweeps into exaggerated contrapposto and sprouts talon-like claws, or a youthful figure turns to the viewer with eyes glowing red like a futuristic cyborg—have made for some of their most cult-followed pieces yet. “It’s been amazing to see Julien introduced to our audience fully,” Gadient adds.