This week, Selfridges became the first retailer to sell NFTs IRL, as the retailer puts it, as part of its exhibition of Op-Art giant Victor Vasarely in collaboration with French fashion house Paco Rabanne.
Titled Universe, the show is described by Selfridges as a “groundbreaking entrance into the metaverse”, and will be selling around 1,800 NFTs for between £2,000 and around £100,000 each.
The NFTs feature either artworks by Victor Vasarely or a piece from Paco Rabanne’s first ever collection of 12 dresses, dubbed Unwearables. Customers can purchase the NFTs in the same way they would any other goods, using their bank cards in London’s Oxford Street store’s Corner Shop section from January 28.
Universe is centred around a retrospective of rare works by Vasarely, who is often referred to as the ‘grandfather’ of the Op-Art movement and whose artwork is used as the backdrop on David Bowie’s Space Oddity record sleeve. The exhibition presents 55 of his artworks, 37 of which will be available for sale, alongside the series of specially commissioned NFTs created by London-based platform Substance.
Vasarely’s mind-bending optical illusions are celebrated across the Oxford Street store: 24 windows on the shopfront are decorated with his designs; while inside, Substance has also created the virtual reality ‘metaverse’ environment billed as “a progression of Vasarely’s investigation of the fourth dimension” in which visitors can interact with the artist’s “calibrated patterns and hypnotic oscillations”.
This metaverse is also accessible online at open source 3D virtual world platform Decentraland.
“As Selfridges looks to the future, we continue to find inspiration in the past. In the case of Victor Vasarely and Paco Rabanne, we have more than 50 years of proposals for the future to explore,” says Sebastian Manes, executive buying and merchandising director at Selfridges. “I love the idea of bringing Vasarely’s art to a social space like Selfridges – alongside the distinct identity of Paco Rabanne – and using their vision as a way to bring emotion, connection and accessibility to the experience.”
Universe also marks the launch of Paco Rabanne’s Spring Summer 2022 collection. The brand’s creative director Julien Dossena used Vasarely’s work as a starting point for the collection, working closely with the Fondation Vasarely to reimagine some of the artist’s patterns into printed, jacquard, chainmail and sequined fabrics.