He produced one of New York Fashion Week’s biggest shows.
Debuted his handbag collection in Vogue. Designed clothes, jewelry, and accessories. Authored books. Even opened a bakery. Now, fashion veteran Darren Greenblatt is channeling his creativity in a whole new medium: mixed media art. Combining paints, French acrylics, Hermes and Gucci wallpapers and vintage magazines, the critically acclaimed designer and producer has created a 20-piece series that evokes his love/ hate relationship with the industry, bringing to the canvas a visual dialogue that confronts fashion’s waste and pretension with its artistry, beauty, and relevance.
The result is a collection bursting with color, nostalgia, and contradiction.
“As a fashion ‘refugee’ with distance from the industry, and from the craft that has been a driving force since I was a child, I’m able to explore and see things with new eyes,” says Greenblatt, who creates his art from his home studio in Princeton, New Jersey. “My recent work homages the enigmatic and magical world of fashion- past, present and future and how it works within different spaces and mediums.”
Greenblatt found inspiration in a wealth of materials, from flowers to graphic design, layered patterns, prints and textures. His use of color is exaggerated, brimming with hope and fury.
How those elements relate and conflict gave the artist the tension to capture his message.
“There is friction between the duality of organic nature and two-dimensional graphic design, where flowers become repeated prints,” he says.
Rather than label the collection, Greenblatt, in an ode to the fashion industry, simply numbered each piece — like the looks/ exits from a runway presentation.
Greenblatt’s new series is his first collection in eight years. After more than two decades in New York, where he established himself a creative and entrepreneurial force in the fashion industry, he and his husband Sam, relocated to Princeton to raise their daughter, Olive. A messy and protracted custody fight with the child’s mother extinguished the creativity that once helped him produce enduring art.
“Our lives became courtrooms, depositions and an overwhelming sense of loss,” Greenblatt says. “That may serve as inspiration for other artists, but it was never what drove me to create. So, it was hard to find the light and color that always guided my work in such darkness.”
It was in 2019 when Greenblatt began thinking of the new series as a response to litigation and needing to find the color in life again, which was fortuitous because six months later the pandemic hit.
“It’s what I needed, and I think what the world needed,” Greenblatt says.
The artist will begin exhibiting the series later this year
Greenblatt’s career trajectory has taken many routes. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, he studied with designer Betsey Johnson and couturier Christian Francis Roth before founding his first multi-media platform, Girls Rule. It was the first group show during NYFW catering to the youth market and created a new runway for emerging designers to show their collections, sponsors to enter the industry and up-and-coming models, actresses and socialites to take the world stage. Girls Rule ruled New York Fashion Week for a decade. At the same time, Greenblatt designed himself, becoming a creative director for iconic fashion brand Fiorucci before starting his own label Stanton Maxwell, whose first designer handbag collection debuted in Vogue’s 2008 September issue. Greenblatt also began an illustration series called “The Ugly Lives of Beautiful People,” featuring sketches of runway collections with pithy, ironic quotes about life, culture, and the fashion industry, and co-authored and illustrated “Planet Yumthing,” a D-I-Y book series for teens.
The 2009 recession encouraged Greenblatt to expand
The 2009 recession encouraged Greenblatt to expand his creative palate to a new medium: food. His passion for cooking, entertaining and experience-design, coupled with the entrepreneurial instincts that have always guided his work, led him to start Donna Bell’s Bake Shop with two friends, first as a mobile food truck and later as a brick-and-mortar shop in midtown Manhattan. Its success spawned a best-selling cook and story book, Donna Bell’s Bake Shop: Recipes and Stories of Family, Friends and Food.
Upon relocating to Princeton, Greenblatt started a new firm, Princeton Creative Services, in a full-service agency dedicated to the life-enhancing power of good design. Its purpose? To make lives and spaces more beautiful.
Something he has done throughout his career.