The connection between fashion and art is booming today, but traces its origins in the late nineteenth century. Clothes were no more an element of survival but became something symbolic, a form of expression, a sign of sophistication of culture and personality, very close to the art.
After periods of crisis in 1848 have started the first Universal Exhibitions. The clothes from being an artistic craft, transformed to a form of expression of the designer.
The unbreakable bond between fashion and art continued to grow in the twentieth century. Elsa Schiparelli is one of the most significant examples, one of the most remarkable fashion figures between the two world wars, a creative woman who inspired its designs on the genius of Salvador Dalí and other surrealist painters.
Schiaparelli designed models with lines, colors and unique fabrics such as 1937 Lobster Dress or the gloves with painted nails signed by Dalí himself.
It could only have been the meeting of such minds that would create pieces such as the 1937 Lobster dress.
Another early example of the fashion-art crossover stemmed from the bold geometry of Dutch painter PietMondrian. Hermès designer Lola Prusac looked to Mondrian’s famous works — featuring white backgrounds, grids of thick black lines and blocks of primary colours — for inspiration, producing a range of luggage and bags with square inlays of red, yellow and blue leather.
This fashion and art crossover inspired later brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Celine.
Building some of the most iconic architecturally-inspired clothing has to be couturier Paco Rabanne. His first runway show in 1966 was titled 12 Unwearable Dresses and featured pieces made out of sheet metal and rubber.
Despite the unconventional materials, Rabanne skilfully structured his dresses to his models’ exact proportions and as an artist he always has considered his mother advise: “In fashion you have all the freedom except one; never undermine the woman´s beauty. “
Andy Warhol was another clear example of flirtation between fashion and art. The artist was fascinated by fashion in general, so he illustrated for fashion advertisements, such as the Schiparelli´s gloves. Gianni Versace gave a tribute to Warhol in the 90s, with a collection of pop art where you could see designs of the artist as the famous portrait of Marilyn Monroe.
Posthumously, Warhol’s position in the fashion Hall of Fame was cemented by Gianni Versace‘s 1991 Pop Art collection, which included a jewel-encrusted version of the artist’s lurid Marilyn Monroe prints.
In the last years, the collaborations between fashion and art have continued, with nods to great artists of the avant-garde, as Rodarte 2012 Collection with the bold tribute to Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the iconic flower print chiffon dress.
It’s not just painters who have sparked inspiration for leading fashion designers. Architects and their designs have also been cited as creative muses. Coco Chanel summed up the importance of this relationship when she said: “Fashion is architecture. It is a matter of proportion.”