Monday, September 8, 2008

Painting as a Fashion Motif

Whether fashion can be considered to be a work of art in and of itself is an ongoing debate among art curators and fashion historians. But it cannot be disputed that Yves Saint Laurent was the first fashion designer to use a painting as a direct source of inspiration for his collections and as a fashion motif.

In 1965, YSL created the "Mondrian" dress which applied the simplified colour blocks seen in the work of the artist Piet Mondrian to a sleeveless jersey knit tunic dress. This deceptively simple design with the graphic blocks of white, yellow, red, blue and black from Mondrian's paintings was considered a masterpiece of construction.

This reference to art in YSL designs was followed up with the "Pop Art Look" in the following year and hand-beaded Van Gogh iris jackets in the 1980s.

Since that first Mondrian dress, many other designers have referenced art in their designs. This past season alone there were countless designers who did os, including John Galliano for Dior Haute Couture (Hand-painted and embroidered dress after Gustav Klimt's Adele Block-Bauer portrait), Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton (Sheer dress and slipdress after Richard Prince's Man Crazy Nurse #3), and Armani (Silk-organza petal dress with jewel brooch after Degas Dancers).