Fashion IS Modern Art

May 18, 2008 • Magazine

Fashion IS Modern Art

Fashion IS Modern Art

Sun, 2008-05-18 09:00

Jacqueline Zenn

I’ve always viewed fashion as a form of art in and of itself; however, lately I’ve been seeing prints and silhouettes that remind of me of a more conventional type of art. More specifically, they are reminiscent of the work of Spanish luminaries like Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Joan Miró. Of course, fashion designers drawing inspiration from artists is hardly a new concept – big names like Paul Poiret (cubism) and Elsa Schiaparelli (surrealism) referenced modern art constantly. Furthermore, these are some investment-worthy pieces – besides their timeless appeal, (there is a reason those artists are so renowned), they are stand-alone showstoppers that only require the most basic of accessories.

This simple shift dress by Vivienne Tam (for Anthropologie) is probably the most obvious example of the trend, since it is literally painted in broad brushstrokes of inky black and ruby red. There is also something quite painterly about the swirls of blue and yellow on this Black Halo dress, and the bold colors would definitely make an impact. Dramatic prints like these tend to be flattering as well – the eye is drawn to the movement of the lines instead of your perceived flaws.

Sometimes the artistic inspiration behind a particular piece isn’t so literal. For instance, the defined geometry and layered shapes of this Matthew Williamson frock brings Picasso’s work to mind, while the abstract landscape of this bright Chloe dress would be at home on a gallery wall. And the graceful butterflies (look closely!) on this Tibi maxi-dress wouldn’t be out of place either.

Although they might seem complicated at first glance, one of the many wonderful things about these intricate prints is how easy they are to wear. All you need is a simple of sandals (I’m loving gladiator styles at the moment), a sleek clutch, and maybe a bangle or two. If you really want to add some Spanish flair, however, a pair of oversize hoop earrings wouldn’t be a bad addition.

Of course, I can’t neglect Spain’s most famous surrealist, Salvador Dali. While I haven’t found clothing that really evokes his unique style, no one can say these Marc Jacobs shoes don’t have a bit of a surreal aspect. Or if you want to really make a statement, you can go for some trompe l’oeil with this Aminka Wilmont shift. It’s definitely surprising and a little absurd, and there is something nicely surreal about wearing a print of a mannequin.

1. Vivienne Tam Lyrique Shift
2. Girl Before a Mirror, c.1932. Pablo Picasso
3. See by Chloe Landscape Dress
4. Black Halo Parrot Print V-Neck Dress
5. Abstract, c.1935, Joan Miro
6. Matthew Williamson Leaf Print Dress
7. Tibi Papillon Long Halter Dress
8. Marc Jacobs Collection Runway Patent Peep Toe with Misplaced Heel
9. Aminaka Wilmont Trompe L’oeil Mannequin Dress
10. Rose Meditative, c.1958, Salvador Dali

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