It’s the world’s biggest ever mural made entirely from denim … so it just had to be pioneering Huddersfield artist Ian Berry behind it.
Ian was commissioned to do the work for the iconic Place de la République in the heart of Paris to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Levi’s iconic 501 jeans brand and it’s now moving on to Milan and Madrid.
The 39-year-old’s vision was to capture the different kinds of people who have contributed to the Levi legacy by wearing the brand over the years and made it a timeless fashion item crossing styles and generations.
The seven figures range from the cowboys of the 1880s to the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War Two along with 1970s punks, bikers and rebels.
The mural, 33ft long and 13ft tall, is made entirely from Ian’s trademark pre-worn denim. It’s so big he had to painstakingly construct it onsite from hundreds of different pieces.
Levi’s have paid it the ultimate tribute, describing the mural as “a work of art as iconic as the 501 jean.”
The way the characters are depicted in movement, heading in the same direction and resolutely looking forward, emphasises freedom and the power of diversity that drives change.
Ian, who comes from Netherton and attended Newsome High and Greenhead College, said: “There is no history of blue jeans without Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis and the 501 is the pinnacle of jeans, so this 150th anniversary definitely feels like a big thing to me.
“The history is so rich – it was pretty easy to draw inspiration from all the people who did great things in their denim. The result is the largest piece that I have ever attempted. Countless hours went into this work but I’m immensely proud to finally see the result.”
Mathilde Vaucheret, Levi’s brand marketing director for south Europe, said: “I’m proud that our Levi’s brand could associate its name with this great artist on such a milestone year and that we could share his stunning work of art on this busy and diverse square at the heart of Paris.”
Levi Strauss historian Tracey Panek added: “I am a fan of Ian Berry’s work and craftsmanship. He’s such a talented artist with a gift for using denim.
“This project looks amazing. Ian’s interpretation of the 501 jeans’ recurring presence in counterculture and progressive movements is on point.”
The mural was in Paris for three days.
Images by: KRISTY SPAROW
In 2022 Ian unveiled a portrait made especially for the Levi Strauss Museum, the jeans inventor’s birthplace in Buttenheim, Germany, ready to commemorate this year’s milestone and he also created three portraits of Chilean musicians with Levi’s Chile which now hang in the Plaza Egaña Metro station in Santiago where hundreds of thousands of people pass by.
The European mural will be in Milan for Design Week at Università Statale from April 17 to 25 and then in Madrid at Plaza Callao from May 4 to 7.
Ian’s website is https://www.ianberry.org/
- Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.