Art and fashion have always been dependent on one another.
Coco Chanel collaborated with Pablo Picasso, Yves Saint Laurent returned to art throughout this career, Elsa Schiaparelli was fascinated with Surrealism and Dali and the list goes on. The influence of visual arts within the realm of ready-to-wear fashion is at times subtle, but undeniable. Several artistic movements have impacted the fashion industry in different decades; some were more impactful than others.
Expressionism influenced collections with sensible femininity. The vivid colors and dramatic silhouettes of the Expressionist artists provide fertile ground for designers’ collections. Many artworks related to the Expressionist ideals are rooted in the idea of emotion, which was often translated into fashion through color and movement.
Impressionism brought the breezy romance that still captivates the runway to this day. From the gentle tranquility of Monet to the controlled movement of Van Gogh, the impressionist influence is present both in the silhouette and the fabrics used in many designs.
Minimalism is as appealing to the modern woman as it is to the modern artist. Minimalist design in fashion has become so commonplace it’s almost taken for granted at the Fashion shows. The aesthetic defines everything from the collections themselves to the venues in which they are shown. In New York, the Proenza Schouler designers love to show their collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Japonism had an interesting influence through artists such as Goodwin and Manet in 1868. At the Paris world’s fair in 1867, there was a pavilion dedicated to the arts and crafts of Japanese textiles, porcelains and woodblock prints. Along with its counterpart, Chinoiserie, Japonism transformed the interiors and designs of the 19th century European bourgeoisie. Artists captured high society hostesses adorned in kimono-style robes, standing against printed silk screens, or leaning against furniture while playing with an oriental fan.
Street Art, Collage, Graffiti, Illustrations are important pieces of the modern street style; one cannot exist without the other. “They are a walking work of art that is grounded and created with the idea, that they are being made for a brand to be worn on the street and not just existing artwork that has been put onto clothing.” Christophe Chemin, the 39-year-old Berlin-based French artist propelled, somewhat reluctantly, into fashion’s spotlight, is describing the imagery he conceived for Prada AW16.
OP Art is short for Optical Art, a daring approach to the combination of art and fashion. The dynamic ideas first explored by 1960s artists, offer a tantalizing challenge for those designing for the body. Bridget Riley, Victor Vasarely, Julian Stanczak – the spirit of Op Art was writ large at the shows where designers played with the same chromatic graphics that fascinated the 1960s artists, who came to define the youthful optimism of the age, which was showcased through their styles.
Pop Art brings color and personality into the picture. Designers tend to say that seeing a work of art or a person – inspired their collections; when it comes to pop art, they may mean this quite literally. Versace’s 1991 collection, inspired by Andy Warhol, featured a dress completely composed of colorful prints of the faces of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. A very simple approach to showcase the influence of famous personalities in the world of fashion. Yves Saint Laurent himself was very close to Andy Warhol, who certainly influenced many of the brand’s designs as one of the most important artists of the decade.
Surrealism defies our concept of beauty in fashion. The art movement gave way to a plethora of artists that painted unnerving, illogical scenes that bent reality as we know it. Think Salvador Dali and his melting clocks against walls and tree branches. In fashion, the most common form of representing surrealism is in the addition of unexpected and bizarre details. In 1997, Alexander McQueen — who was, at the time, no stranger to adding feathers and shells to his designs — explored the aesthetics of distorting the body to achieve a dramatic concept, accessorizing a model in a caged design.
Architecture assists designers to build their ideas into life. Watch any fashion show under the creative direction of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear designer Nicolas Ghesquière, and one is struck as acutely by the drama of the show space as by the collections within it. For Ghesquière, architecture provides the stage on which his women come to life. To him, “it’s about the interaction between the landscape and the building.”