Have you ever wondered about the connection between fashion and art? Believe it or not, these two creative fields have influenced each other for centuries.
From using fine art techniques in fashion design to clothing serving as inspiration for famous paintings, the fashion and art worlds are more intertwined than you may think.
In this article, we’ll look at the most iconic examples of fashion meeting art.
Understanding these crossovers gives an appreciation for how creative expression can take many forms.
1. The Robe à la Française
Back in the 18th century, the ornate French Rococo style was all the rage. This movement within the decorative arts focused on elaborate, asymmetrical designs that prioritized decoration over simplicity. Rococo style also utilized pastel colors, gold filigree, and nature-inspired motifs.
The robe à la Française reflected many of these Rococo ideals. This garment featured a fitted bodice with a low-cut square neckline that flowed into a full skirt. The overskirt was parted to reveal an underskirt, often intricately embroidered or trimmed in lace or ribbons. This iconic dress mirrored common Rococo themes seen in painting, sculpture, and architecture at the time. The robe à la Française demonstrates how fashion absorbed artistic tendencies within the cultural zeitgeist of the period.
2. Cubist Fashion
In the early 20th century, Cubism was shaking up the art world. This avant-garde movement, led by Picasso and Braque, fragmented figures and objects into abstract, geometric forms. Cubist artists aimed to depict subjects from multiple viewpoints at once.
Cubist style also influenced fashion design. Decorative cubist patterns were incorporated into fabrics, like those produced by the Wiener Werkstätte textile workshop. Fashion designers like Sonia Delaunay also experimented with cubist-inspired motifs in her garments. Delaunay’s Robe Simultanée, for example, featured colorful interlocking rectangles reminiscent of analytic cubism.
Just as Cubist artists sought new ways of seeing, cubist fashion also represented a cutting-edge shift towards abstraction in clothing. The cubist crossover expanded concepts of form and perspective from canvas to cloth.
3. Pop Art Prints
Pop art, which emerged in the 1950s, utilized recognizable imagery from popular culture. Andy Warhol’s iconic screenprints of Marilyn Monroe, Campbell’s Soup cans, and Brillo boxes are some of the most well-known pop art works.
Fashion also capitalized on pop art’s commercial aesthetics. Designers like Yves Saint Laurent incorporated vibrant, eye-catching pop art prints into dresses and accessories. The Pop Art Mini Dress YSL designed in 1966 featured a colorful print of cartoonish flowers. This playful garment brought a spirit of fun, youthful energy directly from the pop art movement into wearable fashion.
Pop art prints on clothing also blurred the line between art and the mass-market. Just as pop artists questioned the distinction between “high” and “low” art, pop art fashions brought bold, artistic graphics to mainstream fashion.
4. The Ballets Russes Costumes
Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes brought together some of the most innovative dancers, composers, and visual artists during the modern era. The ballet company premiered now-classic works like The Rite of Spring and Firebird that pushed creative boundaries.
The Ballets Russes’ costumes were equally avant-garde. Artists like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Coco Chanel designed costumes that were imaginative and shockingly modern. Their costume designs were wearable art pieces integral to the performance.
For example, Coco Chanel’s costumes for Le Train Bleu incorporated her signature jersey knit fabric into figure-hugging leotards and bathing suits. Her minimalist, sporty costumes freed dancers’ movements to match the ballet’s athletic choreography.
The innovative Ballets Russes costumes demonstrated the powerful synergy possible when fashion and art work in tandem. The costumes also had an enduring impact on 20th century fashion.
5. Iris van Herpen’s “Shift Souls” Collection
Current designer Iris van Herpen blends cutting-edge technology with couture craftsmanship to create sculptural masterpieces. Often using 3D printing and unusual fabrics, her designs occupy the space between fashion and fine art.
One standout is her Spring 2022 “Shift Souls” collection created in collaboration with artist Kim Keever. To mirror the collection’s themes of human transcendence, van Herpen had Keever photograph pigment dropped into water. She then digitally printed these amorphous shapes onto silk organza. The resulting dresses feature wispy, cloud-like patterns that float across the body.
By incorporating Keever’s art into her designs, van Herpen produced wearable art that expresses both artists’ creative visions. Her boundary-pushing approach expands fashion into an immersive, multi-sensory experience where clothing becomes art incarnate.
The fusion of fashion and art continues today through visionaries like van Herpen. By blending design, sculpture, and technology, she writes the next chapter on fashion’s artistic evolution.
6. Superplastic Takes Fashion Art Collabs Digital
In today’s digital era, fashion and art collaborations have entered the virtual world. One standout example is Superplastic, a company that makes limited-edition vinyl toys and NFTs of animated synthetic characters like Guggimon and Janky.
Super plastic blends pop art, streetwear, and sustainability. Their hand-sculpted vinyl toys are highly collectible physical art objects. But Superplastic also has an online metaverse for the characters to interact via music, art shows, and collaborations. Their NFT drops allow fans to own digital art and accessories for their avatar.
Superplastic’s hybrid model spans physical products, digital experiences, and blockchain technology. Their collaborations with major fashion brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry bring an artistic digital dimension to luxury fashion. Superplastic is reimagining how fashion and art can converge by embracing both tangible and virtual creative spaces.
Fashion and Art Are Forever Entwined
Throughout history, we’ve seen art movements shape fashion, and vice versa. Cubism, pop art, Rococo style, and more have all crossed over from the canvas onto clothing. When art and fashion combine, they allow us to experience art visually and physically.
Collaborations between great minds like Diaghilev, Chanel, and van Herpen also demonstrate the excitement generated when different creative worlds collide. At its best, the marriage between art and fashion acts as a cultural force that pushes both fields into new territory.
So next time you get dressed, think about how even your everyday clothes contain traces of artistic ingenuity. Fashion allows us to wear art, while also creating wearable artworks of its own. Where will this creative synergy lead next? For innovators who think outside the box, the possibilities are endless!