Art Basel Style with Lisa Aviva
I go to art fairs several times a year with my friend and art advisor, Tracy Kinnally, and most recently to Art Basel in Miami Beach. It’s a fun style challenge- the weather is tropical, the convention halls are icy cold, the attendees are runway-ready, and you don’t have a moment to spare from the second you wake up, bleary eyed and wishing for coffee, until the moment you fall asleep after hours of art and parties.
To make this style challenge a little more interesting, Tracy is on the edge of straight sizing, usually wearing a 14/designer 18, and starting to get interested in sustainable fashion. Her interest was a natural progression from a minimalist wardrobe, resulting from constant travel, and her appreciation for the breathability and luscious feel of natural fibers.
When I met Lisa A. Bleviss, the owner and designer of Lisa Aviva, earlier this year, I instantly thought that she could be a match for Tracy. Lisa designs versatile, timeless pieces in decadent natural fibers for women size 10+. A small handful of mix and match garments would make an ideal foundation for someone who needs unfussy, quietly spectacular pieces.
Lisa generously offered to loan a week of outfits for Tracy to wear to Basel, which meant that I got to check out not just the clothes, but the Lisa Aviva experience beginning to end, from a personal fitting with Lisa to the borderline-miraculous packing job that she did that had all the clothes arriving in Miami looking beautiful and ready to wear, to a 16 hour day of viewings, meetings, mixers, and dancing where the ensembles looked perfectly at home in museums, convention halls, and chic rooftop cocktail parties.
Tracy was inspired to write about her experience with Lisa Aviva, and I thought you might be interested in her perspective! - Lauren
What to Wear to Art Basel
Mobility is sexy, especially social mobility. Indeed, one of the ultimate luxuries is to go where one wants, when one wants, appearing exactly as one likes to be seen.
I need luxury clothing I can put on at 8 am, wear to breakfast meetings, brunches, lunch, the art fair, a series of openings, gallery dinner, and then party appearances.
No, there is no time to change. I have to look at art.
It must look good with both flats and heels, should I decide to change accessories: it must be easy to pack.
I want to only have that which is both useful and beautiful in my closet. Or carry - on.
Capsule collections, sustainable fabrics, the ‘spark of joy’, fashion kicks.
So much of the style trends and shifts we are seeing in recent years can be so marvelously encapsulated within the art fair.
Chanel liberated women from the corset, and her jersey knits made movement, liquid sensuality, and her men’s under garment and sportswear inspired women's wear a must-have of her age. Both her ethos and aesthetic has been applied by many designers today, and the sustainably conscious have also made an effort to create desirable luxury garments. Alas, as inundated with Reformation and Amour Vert as my instagram advertises to me to fulfill this ethos, somehow the exact garments I want are never available in my size (14). Plus size brands are usually too top heavy or altogether made for a differently shaped woman.
As both my closet and carry on are small, I want only gorgeous things to give my time, money, and space to. It seemed I would have to perennially wait for the fabulous mystery woman who commissions designer size 18 garments in Chanel and Brunello Cucinelli to consign to the RealReal again. (Not all heroes wear capes, but this one does occasionally, and impeccably).
Perhaps its zeitgeist, however I adore fine clothing and abhor the idea of having to replace it every season. If I find something I want to wear, I want to wear it everywhere, and feel great when it comes on. I will rapaciously indulge in its feel, look, and smell donning it, hanging it, caring for it, never giving it up, and will definitely wear it past its expiry date with pride and multiple alterations to make it last longer. So my ethics come from some strange selfishness and faux frugality, with the bonus of its being good for our environment to consume less.
With my requirements, I assumed my particular plight was simply not economically feasible for most designers, or that my lifestyle was maybe just bizarre compared to the greater population.
Luckily, I have a friend who is a sustainable stylist who was speaking to the team at Lisa Aviva. They serve women size 10 and up, source all of their work from factories in Italy, and their use of knits are designed to morph to the various shapes of the size demographic. The owners also are art lovers, so of course the most appropriate place to wear the garments seemed to be an art fair. Lauren set me up with Lisa, and as she understood intimately the particular lifestyle challenges I gripe about, she was able to narrow down some items for me to take for this year’s edition of Art Basel Miami Beach.
Pencil Skirt Suit:
This ensemble would be more ideal for FIAC in Paris or Frieze London, both in October, as the weather and timing of the aesthetic would fit more perfectly than for Miami, which has its own visual language.
All of the materials felt divine on the skin, the rich navy an excellent all-season shade, and the mod moto-blazer with silver tone detail sits definitively in the Venn diagram overlap of cool and professional. The whole ensemble ideally would be worn with heels, which I only occasionally wear, but would pair well with some standard Salvatore Ferragamo Vara flats. Done with a small amount of finesse, one would be able to wear fashion sneakers with them.
The jacket from this piece I would love to wear with black trousers and street sneakers or pumps, with a scarf and handbag for more casual on-site days.
Hands down the Round Neck Perfect T, in Diamond from this ensemble is the most understated yet perfect article from the group. The texture of the material has the cloud like strength of silk, with the airy structured lightness of just-whipped meringue. Marvelously, it made the trip folded in my luggage without the need to be steamed, and it looks clean and professional with even a basic knitwear bra underneath despite its sheer tone.
Heather Amber Knit Midi Skirt Ensemble
This ensemble, consisting of the Boatneck Top with Rib Knit and Midi Skirt, both in Heathered Amber, was my favorite. The material is a cotton and linen knit that is dense and light to the touch, drapes with enough structure to maintain its grace, and breathes very well. While we steamed the material after unpacking, it really didn’t need it. It also has an earthy, neutral tone while reflecting the light the way flaxen wheat does in the sunset, both in the daylight and the flash of a photographer’s or smartphone’s light. It holds both a mid-century Italian looking elegance to it, ala the center figure in Ruth Orkin’s American Girl in Italy, 1951, as well as a suggestion of high-end mod detailing with its sweatshirt-style lining usually reserved for clothing designed to sit on wispy thin, chicly slightly androgynous women.
This materials also feels divine against the skin, allowing one to sweat in the Miami heat and humidity without fear of the ensemble being ruined. It pairs well with either heels, sandals, or fashion sneakers, as well as the requisite scarf for transitioning between the heat outside and air conditioning in the convention center, gallery space, restaurant, or party venue.
A-Line Dress, in Heathered Amber
The material and tone are exactly the same as the Midi Skirt Ensemble, and therefore already is an exquisite dress. It reads a bit more formally on, however I wore this piece from the museum brunches, to the fair’s opening day, to drinks, dinner, and the parties with only complements, with one of the first being “You dress so well from day to evening”. The quality of light also played out beautifully while interacting with Larry Bell’s pieces in the show “Time Machines”at the ICA Miami. This effect was captured on video with the help of a very enthused security guard art directing while keeping guests from tripping over the installation machinery, recorded by a woman I met in the previous installation, and viewed by a large group of entertained-looking patient museum goers standing behind her. Ideally some heels would allow the full flow of the dress to show, however it worked just fine with my Aquatalia suede flats.
Lisa Aviva’s work is definitely investment -worthy with its incredibly wearable luxury sustainable fabrics, taking any woman who wears them where she really wants to go with ease and style.
Tracy shows off the movement of the dress, complemented by Larry Bell’s installation.