Is fashion art? That is the question and one where the answers have and will always be divided. Everyone has a different opinion and a different idea about what these two worlds are and should be.
I want to explore the connection between the two. I want to develop an understanding of how each inspires the other. There is no doubt that art has inspired fashion. And please note, by fashion, I am not speaking of the print tailored blazer you got from Zara, but I am speaking of those that are a conscious creation, which channel historical influence. I am speaking of works such as Gustave Beer’s evening dress from 1919, where silver rhinestones were hand beaded onto black netting to create the Japanese yotsukanawa and seigaiha motifs; or Yohji Yamamoto’s wooden vest and skirt combination from his AW 1991 collection, inspired by the costumes from the ballet Parade that were originally designed by Picasso, it expresses a desire to escape from human form.
But who could forget the work of Elsa Schiaparelli, a designer who was not only inspired but worked closely with surrealists artist to fuse the world of art and fashion to give a new meaning to the terms.
Art is defined as being the ‘expression… of human creative skill and imagination… producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.’ Therefore, why can fashion not be art? Modern sculptor, Louise Nevelson dismisses the connection between the two stating that for fashion to qualify as art, what one wears must not only be an expression of their true self but must also relate to their environment. She does make a good point though- today it is all about the designer. Consumers identify themselves by who they wear, rather than how one looks or what they do. The consistent argument made amongst artisans as to why fashion is not art is the fact that the modern way of life and modern dressing is now so fast that no longer does a woman wear the dress, but the dress wears the woman.
The art of fashion, whilst it is style, it’s also in the finer details. It’s turning a vision into an idea and an idea into a physical form. It’s not the sewing of the seams, but it’s how a detailed dress is beaded or the way the dyes work harmoniously together.
My aim is to explore this- to see how designers and creators have created their own form of art. To see what inspires them, who they inspire and how we can all be inspired.