If you’ve ever had the pleasure of tramping through the gargantuan carpeted tent erected to house Frieze and Frieze masters in London’ Regent’s Park each year, you’ll already be au fait with its sartorial codes. In an environment filled with beautiful objects – from Matisse masterpieces, though to enormous tables covered with pink objects from hairbrushes and handmirrors through to dildos and buttplugs – it is an unwritten rule that one must dress for the occasion. Curators, bankers, collectors, lawyers, artists, fashion designers, over-excited students… A vast conglomerate of visitors mingle, dressed in all their various finery. Who better to capture such a charade than London-based photographer Alexander Coggin?
“I thought it was amazing!” he tells us over the phone a couple of days after the event has take place. “It wasn't a fast and steady rule that the pearls are from Frieze Masters and the tattoos are from Frieze. Some of the more conservative looks I got were in Frieze, and some of the more badass stuff that I shot were at Frieze Masters. It’s kind of more a mix of those who are viewing and those who are selling.”
Somewhat unusually, his subjects were more than happy to be the objects of his attentions. “I thought I was gonna have a more difficult time at Frieze Masters, but everybody was just thrilled to be shot. Truly, truly. I was trying to figure out who was there for what reason and I think I got a really healthy mix, to be honest, of buyers, gallerists, lawyers, artists.”
From necks draped with pearls to bright printed satin shirts and the occasional pair of broken glasses, Coggin's clavicle-based study is proof if any is needed that art people truly know how to dress. “The art world is an eccentricity bubble, and that's the lovely thing I think about Frieze – if you are an artist or if you are a gallery, even if you are a buyer, you are incentivised to be noticed there. People really dress to show, and I really appreciate a lot about that. It's such a more diverse world than fashion."
Likewise, age was of no importance. “Some of the most eccentric looks, I should say, were on the oldest people. That's the art world in general, and I'm happy to see that that's not just a Berlin thing. An old ass woman is looking fly as fuck in her bat-shit crazy outfit. It's amazing!”