Johny Dar was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on 17th April, 1978. Growing up, he nurtured dreams of becoming a filmmaker, convinced from an early age that he had a vision to share. Discovering his talent for design, he moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1997 to study fashion. Dar launched his first fashion label ‘Johny Wonder’ in 1999 and has been producing timeless collections ever since.
Dar quickly captivated the fashion scene with his avant-garde collections, which were stocked in top retailers and shown alongside established designers by the time he graduated. He dressed Pink, Shakira, Nelly Furtado, and Brooke Burke among others, and drew celebrities including Naomi Campbell, Puff Daddy, Bill Mayor and Pamela Anderson to his shows. But Dar turned his back upon his budding fashion career in 2002, leaving LA to seek new experiences and explore the world.
For five years Dar travelled new lands, studying different societies and traditions, seeking to break away from the known and nurture his talent in new ways. During his journey he developed his unique artistic style, which he sees as the fruit of his exploration and culmination of his experience, and which forms the heart of his work in every medium he engages. Dar’s art pioneers a new form of expression through illustration, design, body art, fashion, multimedia and music. Drawing boundless inspiration from his extensive experience of different cultures, Dar’s passion for originality is palpable in every aspect of his work, and his signature style as outstanding in his paintings as his body art, light installations, fabric design, couture fashion, illustration, sportswear and music.
Dar launched the first volume of DAR the BOOK in 2012 – the first of a six volume art series featuring artistic interpretations of the human body, the earth and the universe at large. DAR the BOOKs 1 and 2 are captivating collections of images pioneering a new and refreshing perspective upon the female body. DAR the BOOK 3 explores magical dreamlike realms of animals and landscapes, and is due to be published in 2016.
The release of DAR the BOOK led Dar to explore body art and applying his unique expression to the body. The result is an extraordinary symbiosis between his own creative inspiration and the individual he paints, creating a seamless second skin that produces a unique effect and unforgettable imagery. He achieved worldwide recognition for his 2014 limited edition calendar ‘Tuuli by Dar’ photographed by Rankin, and his work on Lady Gaga’s music video ‘GUY’. Dar’s work has been featured in publications including Vogue, Fault, Hunger, Kaltblut, Aesthetica, Tatler, Flair, Elle and many others.
In July 2014, Dar presented ‘Dare by Johny Dar’ at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Berlin, which introduced his body art live for the first time, alongside his SS15 collection. This unique runway show was a scintillating fusion of original art, avant-garde fashion, live performance and multimedia, and received a standing ovation and rave reviews from both the Berlin and international press.
Dar opened the Johny Dar gallery in Berlin in October 2014, showcasing a diverse selection of art, fashion and installation pieces. The ‘Queen of Pearls ‘- an extraordinary crystallized sculpture made from more than 300,000 hand placed pearls – was exhibited there throughout 2015. Other exhibits included the ‘Horse Whispers’ exhibition – an art and photography series featuring a Arabian stallion hand painted by Dar, which was also exhibited at the MOCA in Beijing.
2015 also marked the launch of DAR the MUSIC, with the release of Dar’s debut music video ‘I’m Grey’. In June Dar launched the ‘Love Your Body’ campaign in partnership with Brigitte magazine – a global campaign using body art to promote a healthy body consciousness. The Johny Dar gallery also hosted Dar’s SS16 ‘inspired by me loving you’ collection runway show during Berlin Fashion Week.
In 2016 Dar launched ‘Jeans for Refugees’ – a global artistic collaboration dedicated to helping refugees all around the world. The project involves 101 talented individuals who have achieved worldwide recognition for their contributions to society in the realms of fashion, film, music and arts, including Sir Elton John, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Vivienne Westwood, Kate Moss, Marianne Faithfull, Carla Bruni, Sofia Coppola, Emma Watson, Karlie Kloss and others. Each participant’s jeans will be painted by Dar and exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery in London, before being auctioned to raise funds for the International Rescue Committee.