(c) 2012, Bloomberg News.

(c) 2012, Bloomberg News.

NEW YORK U.S. artist Rob Pruitt's new designs for cult brand Jimmy Choo bring the bling to zoology.

They include leopard-print patent-leather wallets, zebra- patterned high heels and $15,000 limited-edition panda clutches decorated with more than 11,000 Swarovski crystals.

Pruitt is known for concocting the Oscar-like Art Awards and fashioning the 7-foot-tall Warhol tribute called "The Andy Monument," commissioned by the Public Art Fund.

Q: How did you react when Jimmy Choo approached you?

A: It was one of the best offers I'd ever gotten.

I think that my art really comes alive when it's activated in these kinds of ways. I would feel terribly sad if it only had an existence on the walls of galleries and, hopefully, museums.

Q: What did you have in mind when you started working on the collection?

A: When the invitation came, it was about making a collection for cruise wear. So I was thinking about most of the winter still ahead and a cruise being like a moment to fly somewhere tropical and be somebody that you haven't necessarily been before.

That's why the collection looks the way it looks, with all those hot colors and clashing designs.

Q: You were also inspired by your own work?

A: More recent works. The gradient motif which is on the bottom of most of the shoes comes directly from a series of paintings of abstract faces.

Then there's the panda project that started as this wild animal that needed protection and became an international symbol of youth and pop culture.

Q: Did you think the collaboration would help promote your work?

A: I didn't really think about whether it would help or hurt the paintings. I did it for myself. I thought it would be great to take their iconography and get it out on the street.

Q: Is there another designer you'd like to work with?

A: Two summers ago I was invited to a party on the Missoni yacht and I was so inspired by the way it looked, so easy, comfortable and elegant, that I thought these are people I would like to get to know better and work on a project with. I would also love to work with Marc Jacobs.

Q: Will you ask them?

A: I tend to wait to be asked. Even for my art career, I never ask an art dealer if I can have a show.

Q: Why is that?

A: I suppose it's a way for me to gauge how successful what I'm doing is. If no one is asking then that makes me think that I need to work a little harder.

Q: Would you ever consider becoming a fashion designer?

A: Sure. Life is long and there are a lot of hours in the day. There's always time to do more.

Q: But you wouldn't give up painting?

A: No, I don't think I could. I might get thrown out of the art world, but I will never give it up.

Q: Do you think fashion's on the same level as art?

A: I think they're equal but different. They're not going to build temples to fashion, but the level of creative talent involved is probably not that different from the art world. It's just that it's disposable.

I'd like a woman to buy a pair of these shoes and just wear them once and then put them on a pedestal or shelf. It's an idea that makes me smile.

bc-fashion-pruitt-qanda (TPN)