Destination Guides

Fashion Meets Art: J&M Davidson X Tanya Ling

A conversation with the husband-and-wife team and artist behind the exclusive collaboration turning exquisite handbags into hand-painted pieces of art

Fashion Meets Art: J&M Davidson X Tanya Ling

From designing leather goods on their kitchen table to launching an international exclusive brand in 1985, John and Monique Davidson’s vision has always been products with exquisite materials and perfect workmanship — and this collaboration is no different. The Anglo-French couple has paired with renowned artist, Tanya Ling, in an exciting project featuring the brand’s A/W16 handbag line and the option for a personal commission by the artist (only available at J&M’s new London flagship on Mount Street). Here’s our conversation with the designers and artist about this collaboration and what’s next for the brand. 

DEPARTURES: You have championed Tanya’s work for decades – what is it about her art that stands out to you both?

John and Monique Davidson: We have always loved Tanya's style, from her early fashion illustrations to her later more abstract paintings. She paints with such a bold confidence, and coupled with the influences she brings from traditional Indian painting, her art just works with fashion. Our connection to Tanya is very personal too - she is a long time and dear friend - so naturally we are interested in all of her projects. 

What sparked this particular project with Ling?

J&M D: Art is an integral part of J&M Davidson; all of our collections are inspired by artistic movements and styles. Launching an artist collaboration project was a natural next step for the brand. We admired the way Tanya was painting in a very free and expressive way; so, we felt more than comfortable asking her to be involved and to give her carte blanche to paint directly onto our leather bags. We were honoured when she said yes, and we love what she has done. 

And Tanya, what attracted you to collaborate with J&M Davidson on these bags?

Tanya Ling: I love John and Monique, so I was thrilled to be asked to work with them on this project. I was given complete freedom to do whatever I liked with the bags and to treat them less like an accessory and more like a sculpture.

You’ve taken three J&M Davidson handbag styles and transformed them to each feature a personal, hand-painted design — can you elaborate on these designs? Where do they come from?

TL: At heart, I'm an intuitive artist and, as such, I'm not entirely sure where the work comes from, but there is a sense that the work finds me. I don't go looking for it. I think these bags have been transformed into sculptures; I would describe them now as more art and less design.  There is a sense that they've become impractical as bags and are probably best placed on a plinth.

The J&M Davidson London flagship store on Mount Street

What’s next for J&M Davidson?

We would like to continue designing beautiful clothes and accessories that encapsulate modern luxury and timelessness for women of substance, which is what our brand is all about. As the reception to our recently opened store on Mount Street in London has been so positive, we would like to explore expanding to other fashion capitals. Paris and New York are places we have always loved, so they could be in the next chapter.

Commissioned pieces are available until January 31, 2017 at the J&M Davidson London flagship store on Mount Street.