What Did the Art World Wear to Art Basel Miami Beach? We Buttonholed 15 Fashionable Fairgoers

Art Basel Miami Beach is where people come to shop for trophies and to discover the latest trends in contemporary art—but it’s also where people come to be seen. The big fair kicked off Wednesday with its VIP preview, and the aisles were full of art world cognoscenti. Many were dressed to impress.

Here are a few of the fair-goers that caught our eye, and what they had to say about their day at Art Basel.

Ava Rollins 

Ava Rollins in the VIP Grüne Lounge at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo courtesy of Ava Rollins.

Ava Rollins in the VIP Grüne Lounge at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo courtesy of Ava Rollins.

Where are you from?

New York.

What are you wearing?

A linen set from 6 Shore Road, one of my favorite sustainable and ethical fashion lines; a leather bag from Sagan Vienna; and shoes from Castaner.

What do you do?

I’m an arts and environmentalism publicist.

What brings you to the fair today?

I am largely here in support of my client the Vienna Tourist Board’s inaugural partnership with Art Basel Miami Beach.

What are you enjoying about Miami this year?

Seeing friends and colleagues from around the world, catching up over crisp Viennese wine here in the fair’s Grüne Lounge or with strong coffee in our Viennese Coffeehouse in the botanical gardens. I generally love any opportunity to be immersed in greenery, contemporary art, and authentic interactions.

Julia Brito and Luciana Brito

Julia Brito and Luciana Brito with a work by Diana Al Hadid from Marianne Boesky Gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Julia Brito and Luciana Brito with a work by Diana Al Hadid from Marianne Boesky Gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Where are you from and what brings you to the fair?

Luciana: We have a gallery in Sao Paolo. We represent artists including Marina Abramovic. We exhibit here every year.

So you have a booth at the fair?

Luciana: This year, no.

What are you wearing?

Julia: It’s a Valentino skirt.

Luciana: This is Roksanda.

What are you most looking forward to seeing at the fair? Anything you have your eye on? 

Julia: We just arrived. It is the first time we are visiting the fair not as exhibitors.

Luciana: We are very happy to be here. Very relaxed. We’re just meeting our collectors and talking to the galleries.

Julia: It’s very new for us! We’re seeing everything with more calm, fresh.

What do you like about Art Basel Miami Beach?

Julia: We’re so used to coming here. We’ve been here since the first edition, so we feel very at home.

Luciana: We love this fair!

Ines Figaredo

Ines Figaredo at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Ines Figaredo at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Where are you from?

I’m Spanish.

What do you do?

I’m a creative director, I make handbags. But also, I’m an artist.

What’s your work like?

It’s very honest. It’s the result of an internal dialogue. Nobody else, not even the audience, has room in that process.

What are you wearing?

It is my own design. I work with a haute couture seamstress. She makes my nightgowns, my knickers, everything.

What brings you to the fair?

My friend is an art collector and I have the privilege to come with him. I’m an artist, so this is like food to me.

Have you been to Art Basel before? 

I have been to the fair in Basel, but not in Miami. So far it’s amazing, and I would highly recommend this over Basel. I think it’s much more vibrant. I fell in love with Mildred Thompson at Galerie Lelong. She was an African American feminist artist who died in 2003 and now they are rediscovering her work.

Matthew Strauss

Art collector Matthew Strauss in the VIP Lounge at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Where are you from?

San Diego.

What are you wearing?

Only Tom Ford. I only wear Tom Ford.

What brings you to the fair?

My wife Iris and I have been listed among the top collectors in the world. We have a rather large collection including a  501(c)(3) foundation that has 100 pieces of world-class work that we show to universities and community colleges in Southern California all the time. Because these are kids who don’t get to see great art. Last year, we had 24 exhibitions.

Do you come to Miami every year?

Since 2002. We think this is one of the best fairs in the world. It’s become more of a circus, but since we’re dedicated collectors, we don’t let the circus deter us from what we do. And we’ve already bought a piece today: Our second work by Sterling Ruby.

Do you travel a lot to collect?

Oh yeah, we do. We just lent our Cecily Brown to her show at the Louisiana [in Denmark], so we’re going there for the end of the show, the first week in March. And from there we’ll go on to New York for the Armory Show.

Vickie Spagnola and Diana Boland

Vickie Spagnola and Diana Boland at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Vickie Spagnola and Diana Boland at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Where are you from?

Diana: We’re from New York

What brings you to the fair today?

Vickie: We’re here with UBS, one of the sponsors. My husband works for them.

Diana: And I am her husband’s client.

Do either of you collect art? 

Vickie: Well, we can appreciate it.

Has anything in particular caught your eye today?

Vickie: I saw a lot of things that I like.

Diana: I’m just taking it all in. It’s overwhelming.

Vickie: I’m on sensory overload. The art is beautiful, but it’s so much in one spot.

Diana: And there is some stuff I don’t get. I don’t know. It’s the abstract things that are a little abstract to me.

What are you wearing?

Vickie: It’s a designer from Paris.

Diana: I’m wearing Zara, and I’m not ashamed to say it!

Molly Krause

Molly Krause with a painting by Gregor Hildebrandt at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Molly Krause with a painting by Gregor Hildebrandt at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Where are you from?

New York.

What brings you to Miami?

I’m an arts publicist. A lot of my clients and the people I work with come down every year, so it’s nice seeing everyone.

Have you seen any art you particularly like?

There are these weird little taxidermy creatures, kind of half-pheasant, half-sheep, by Thomas Grünfeld at Wentrup. They are very disconcerting! Weird but cool.

What are you wearing?

The pants are Theory. I got them at Goodwill while shopping for an “ugly sweater” party. My shoes are from Sergio Rossi, and the top is from a boutique in New York. My bag is Hermès. It’s a great day-to-night bag for the fair so I can stash my shoes for later.

What is you favorite thing about coming to Basel?

Finally being able to go to bed at the end of every night!

Stephen Tancibok

Stephen Tancibok at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Stephen Tancibok at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Where are you from?

I live in Atlanta. I’m here with my friend Nancy. This is something we do together every year.

What brings you to the fair?

She’s sort of a serious collector. She actually buys stuff. I just live vicariously through her!

And what do you do?

I’m in retail.

And anything that you might want to purchase here?

Art Basel is probably a little bit out of my budget, but maybe one of the other venues. At Art Miami or CONTEXT I might find something more in my price range. But Nancy has bought two pieces today.

What are you wearing?

I’m wearing a shirt that I got at Zara. The pants I bought in Como this summer. The shoes are Pharrell for Adidas, Stan Smiths.

Billie Zangewa

Billie Zangewa with her work at Blank Projects at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Billie Zangewa with her work at Blank Projects at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Where are you from?

South Africa.

What brings you to Art Basel Miami Beach?

I’m presenting a new body of work with Blank Projects in the Nova Section, and I’m also taking part in a panel discussion called “Feminism: A Global View” on Saturday afternoon in the Auditorium West Lobby at 1:15 p.m.

What kind of art do you make?

My work is about quiet moments from my everyday life, about telling the female story. I feel that in our patriarchal society, our voices have been silenced, and it’s important to give the female perspective.

Is this your first time at the fair?

Yes, and it’s exceeded my expectations.

What are you wearing?

A Gideon dress and Ann Demeulemeester shoes.

Michelle Helmer and Shevanne Helmer

Michelle Helmer and Shevanne Helmer with work by Billie Zangewa at Blank Projects at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Michelle Helmer and Shevanne Helmer with work by Billie Zangewa at Blank Projects at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Where do you live?

Shevanne: We live in London.

Michelle: But we’re also kind of based in Miami for business.

What do you do?

Shevanne: We are designers. We have an accessory and life style brand that’s based in London.

Michelle: We’re currently having a pop-up on Collins. We’re trying to make the everyday women’s bag. Very practical and multi-functional, but with amazing materials.

Shevanne: And all handmade by local artisans!

And what are you wearing today?

Michelle: A Carven dress and a Helmer bag.

Shevanne: The dress is Vita Kin. They are handcrafted in Northern Europe. And the shoes are Gucci, of course. The belt is vintage. I think I bought it somewhere in Thailand. I’m not sure.

Why was important for you to have a presence during Miami Art Week?

Michelle: It’s a vibrant new kind of scene. It brings an edgier, more sophisticated crowd to Miami. It’s a very interesting time to be here. This also gives us inspiration. It’s where the magic happens both in fashion and art.

Shevanne: We come for Art Basel because we are big art collectors.

Have you bought anything yet?

Shevanne: Not yet.

Michelle: We just got in!

Suzy Kellems Dominik

Suzy Kellems Dominik. Photo by Ellie Hayworth.

Suzy Kellems Dominik. Photo by Ellie Hayworth.

Where are you from?

I have a studio in New York, but San Francisco is home.

What brings you to the fair?

I’m an artist, and I have the honor of exhibiting my new work, INVISIBLE, this week at the Nautilus Hotel. The piece is comprised of five soft sculpture female totems and features a neon component that states, in my handwriting, “for without feet one cannot escape.” It is a surrealistic representation of the female nude, drawing profound inspiration from the caryatids of Ancient Greece and fertility totems from archaic society. It will be on view through this coming Sunday!

What do you like about coming to Miami for the fairs?

I’ve been coming to Miami for three years now. There are so many artistic opinions, discerning minds, and analytic voices. It is an extraordinary forum for cultural dialogue, and it becomes a participatory as well as a voyeuristic activity.

Have you seen anything you really like at Basel and if so what?

I was immediately taken by Judy Chicago’s EU-69 Mother India textile work from 1985 at Salon 94’s booth. Considering my recent body of work, I felt an immediate affinity to this iconographic, symbolism-laden tapestry.

Who are you wearing?

My suit is Libertine, with their iconic Le Tigre print. I’ve paired it with Dries Van Noten shoes and a Fendi handbag. My jewelry is by Attilio Codognato from Venice.

Afrodet Zuri

Afrodet Zuri. Photo by Molly Krause.

Afrodet Zuri. Photo by Molly Krause.

Where are you from?

New York.

What do you do?

I am an art dealer and consultant.

What brings you to the fair?

I’ve come every year for a decade. I am in Miami to check the pulse of the artists I favor and to connect with my colleagues and friends from all over the world.

Have you seen anything you really like today?

It’s really nice experiencing booths that venture beyond the white box. Josh Lilley’s presentation of work by Derek Fordjour is a refreshing and beautiful escape from the bustling aisles.

What are you wearing?

I am wearing Versace.

Simphiwe Ndzube

Simphiwe Ndzube with his artwork at Stevenson gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Simphiwe Ndzube with his artwork, On the Shoulders of Giants, at Stevenson gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Where are you from?

South Africa, and based in LA.

What are you wearing?

I have no idea! I’m wearing a Goodwill hat that was supposed to be for one of my sculptures, but I took it for Basel. Possibly I will use it later, but I think I like it on me now. My rings are Sánchez-Kane, a designer friend from Mexico who is really amazing. I think the top is Uniqlo and the shoes are Target.

What brings you to the fair?

I am showing my work here with Stevenson. This is my sculpture On the Shoulders of Giants.

Have you shown here before?

It’s my first time in Miami, but I’ve had a painting at Basel Basel.

What do you think so far?

There’s some pretty beautiful art. But it doesn’t seem that it’s different from any other fair that I’ve seen. It’s the same galleries, the same artists. It’s not open to the public today so it’s a very particular kind of people, with expensive perfumes and makeup, looking really expensive and unapproachable!

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