Tag Archives: Identity

Fafi: Graffiti Meets Fashion

Hey readers! I apologize for not giving you interesting content to sink your eyeballs into for the past couple of days. Honestly, I wasn’t sure which direction I was headed towards next as far as who or what I should blog about. After cajoling the edges of my many crinkled post-it notes by my laptop with smeared ink of ideas, I finally decided at 5:00AM to bring you a post on the legendary female graffiti artist and designer Fafi. 

I first came across her work freshman year of college (never mind how long ago that was) when researching project ideas for my final in the course Art, Space, and Identity in Urban America. After my very down-to-earth professors orchestrated a graffiti tour in the heart of Los Angeles lead by graffiti artist Mear One and L.A. historian Mike the Poet, I knew I had to somehow bring the idea of urban art as graffiti into the forefronts of my final and integrate it with my love for fashion. 

Scouring through every Nylon magazine I could get my hands on, I finally came across the name Fafi (Nylon magazine has NEVER let me down) and her rise as a woman’s graffiti artist from Toulouse, France who has garnered attention with her eye-popping, multicolor visuals showcased on city streets. 

The ingenuity behind her art (in this case I’m referring to graffiti as art, not to be confused with inelegant street tagging or gang affiliated pictographs strewn on brick walls), stems from her impressive use of colors as well as subject matter. She boldly articulates herself as a woman in the mainly thought of male culture by choosing to illustrate sexy, doll-like women known as Fafinettes.

One thing that separates her from a traditional graffitist is her use of paint and a paint brush instead of spray paint, which as the Noisette blogger points out, makes her an undoubtedly easy target to be arrested. But where would we be without the audacious talents of Fafi who has earned respect not only on the streets as an artist, but who has also caught the attention of numerous fashion and beauty industry savants.

On that fateful day when I came across the Nylon magazine article covering Fafi, it detailed her collaboration with M.A.C. cosmetics. I knew at that point that fashion was more than just a private art for the elite, who arguably use runways similar to the likes of gallery showings. And despite high criticism from bohemian classmates at the time who defamed any artistic adventure, such as fashion, as a capitalistic and inarticulate means of expression to dominate youth culture, I turned to Fafi as a model for my argument against their ideas.

Fafi risked being apprehended for her artwork to bring to the public undeniably breathtaking visuals. She aroused a strong sense of personal responsibility as an artist, attracting a wide audience, including M.A.C. cosmetics, which earned her a spot as one of the designers for their February 2008 line. This was a clear case that fashion and beauty has and always will have the power to filter in from the streets, asserting the power of youth culture instead of youth culture being victimized by the fashion and beauty industry.

It’s also about taking one woman’s very public space and identity as a graffitist and re-creating that same momentum and love for art on a different platform via an industry of beauty and fashion. Outside of M.A.C., and if you can’t make it to a Toulouse city street, Fafi has worked with Adidas, LeSportsac handbags, and Chanel. She has catapulted into the fashion industry, bringing her edge and culture with her, unveiling the sought after persona behind her whimsical and fashionable street art. 

(photos from fafi.net and bkrw.com)