Thursday, February 24, 2011

Decoding : Fashion, the Tenth Art ?

The execution of Lady Grey by Delaroche (detail)
 Two days ago, I've had a strange encounter at London Fashion Week during the Giles' show, at the Royal Court of Justice. No, it wasn't Pixie Geldof, but a certain Lady Grey. Is she a close relative to Lady Gaga ? Not at all, Jane Grey was a 16th century English noblewoman who was queen during nine days before her execution for high treason. This woman is mainly famous for a painting of the said execution, by French painter Paul Delaroche. As you suspect, I don't have medium's skills, so, when I talk of encounter, I describe my surprise to see the face of Miss Grey on several outfits of designer Giles Deacon. For me, it was especially relevant to find the detail of a famous painting used as the main pattern of a fashion collection, and I was quite amazed that no one thought about it before.
Giles Fall 2011 ( )
 Fashion, after all, is just an art like another. Critics accuse Haute Couture of being "Art for Art", that is to say something unwearable, pricey and totally useless. Designers such as Gareth Pugh are forced to defend themselves against that accusation, and to prove that their creations are made for stores and not for galleries . But I don't fit into that scheme. I particularly agree with Vanessa Paradis when she declares that she goes to fashion shows as she would go to real shows, i.e. theatre, dance or another performance. I don't mind if a dress is wearable or not, affordable or not, if it is gorgeous and aesthetic, I consider that it equals a painting or a sculpture. I was maybe influenced by the Parnassian poets during my teenage years, but I proclaim the right to "l'Art pour l'Art" !
Alexander McQueen "Savage beauty" exhibition ( photo Sølve Sundsbø )
 It seems that I am not alone in this process. Museums are opening their doors to designers, launching exhibitions for them as they would do it for masters of paintings, sculpture and photography. This Spring, the Metropolitan Museum of New York will host an exhibition devoted to Alexander McQueen at its Costume Institute. In London, the Victoria & Albert Museum will take a special interest in designer Yohji Yamamoto in March, and in Paris, the Museum of Quai Branly shows the close relationship between East and Christian Lacroix. Long past, fashion photography has been considered as artistic. It is not surprising then that the clothes themselves would enter in the spheres of Fine Arts. To when the creation of Fashion gelleries ? It is nearly here : some brands have already launched short-lived concept stores, mixing clothes with contemporary exhibitions ...
Sergio Rossi "Idol" bodice
 The dialogue between art and fashion started with the artists themselves. Painter Dalì influenced designer Elsa Schiaparelli, but he was a designer himself : he created jewels, and many other artists did the same ( Cesar, Picasso and Arman to name few ). The March issue of Vogue Paris incidentally pays a tribute to the famous artist and finds its inspiration in surrealism.
Not surprising then that jewellers and designers would venture in the world of sculpture : I have already told you about Jordan Askill, but the Fashion Week also reavealed Erickson Beaman, and brand Sergio Rossi launched a surprising line of accessories, close to classic Greek sculpture.
Elle Fanning in a video for Rodarte
Then, Contemporary Art starts to blend in with Fashion : when art performer Olympia Scarry wants to create an art statement at Art Basel, she chooses to appear in a burqua at Playboy's party. But not an ordinary burqua : this one was a piece of black lace and silk custom-tailored by Riccardo Tisci himself ... The designer, at the head of the Givenchy House of Couture, has already expressed his will to send fashion back into the world of luxury and, inevitably, of Art.
Indeed, each Art can easily flirt with Fashion : you can see my article on Architecture and the Lourenços, many singers are moving Music closer to Couture, Comics are often seen in t-shirts, and Dance is in the spotlight since the success of Black Swan ( with costumes by Rodarte ). The 7th art is not forgotten : talking of Rodarte, we have spotted actress Elle Fanning in their last video, a genre which grows faster in the Industry, with Tom Ford distinguishing himself in the cinema. From here, we can imagine more meetings with poetry, literature, gastronomy, television and more ... Imagination has no limit, and so is Art. So, let's create !


  1. Wow that is so amazing, what a great idea for a pattern. I love that painting and I love that you mentioned Dalí in this post haha.

  2. I love it.... art meets fashion!!

  3. Interesting.. Your post reminds me of a quote that I love and live by. "Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival." -CS Lewis


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