Fashion’s close relationship to art has only recently received serious consideration by the art world, in part due to renegotiations of genre, such as blurring of genre boundaries between music videos and artworks.
Fashion and sculpture share an aesthetic, with many fashion designers drawing inspiration from works of art for their collections. Here are a few prominent examples:
Gustav Klimt was an Austrian painter renowned for his decorative and ornamental style. His gold leaf Japanese-influenced paintings of society women wearing colorful and intricate clothing made him a beloved figure of his day; today, these works can fetch millions.
Klimt was the leader of the Viennese Secession, a group of artists that broke away from Vienna’s classical conservatism to explore innovative modernist forms like Art Nouveau and Japonisme. Klimt believed strongly in uniting fine and applied arts, something his works embody.
Emilie Floge often designed the extravagant fashions worn by female figures in his paintings, serving as his model in The Kiss painting which depicts two women sharing a passionate embrace in flowing robes with intricate designs adorned with snails which many art historians believe represent female genitalia, adding another level of sexuality and sensuality to it.
Klimt was also well known for designing costumes and jewelry in addition to his paintings, especially costumes that could express women’s emotions and moods. Additionally, he championed gender equality between male and female roles.
Klimt experimented with different styles and techniques throughout his career to produce striking works of art. His pieces were heavily influenced by modernist ideals, including symbolism and surrealism. Furthermore, his style was also greatly impacted by the Viennese School – an influential art movement founded in early 20th century Vienna.
Klimt’s work was marked by intricate ornamentation and an eye for movement, taking inspiration from his travels through Italy and Spain to use color. Additionally, the artist created a style blending natural and geometric forms. Klimt was one of the pioneers of Art Nouveau and stands as one of the greatest artists from his era.
Klimt was a controversial artist with an eccentric personality. Known for drinking heavily and engaging in multiple affairs with models, his most iconic painting The Kiss was inspired by his romantic relationship with Emilie Floge (his brother-in-law’s younger sister). Klimt often donned bohemian-styled robes and sandals that seemed to stand in rebellion against corsets worn at that time.
Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens was an esteemed Flemish painter and diplomat. Having resided in Rome, his artwork was heavily influenced by Renaissance masters as well as classical sculpture from Greece and Italy. When depicting men, Rubens often highlighted classic masculine tropes such as athleticism, high achievement, valor in war, and civil authority.
Rubens was born in Siegen, Germany in 1577. In 1606 – during the Protestant Reformation – his family relocated to Antwerp (present day Belgium) as Protestants and began studying art with Tobias Verhaecht, an uncle of his mother’s. Soon he was recognized for his talent and became apprenticed to various Mannerism artists practicing within this style.
In his early 20s, he traveled to Italy to experience works by Renaissance masters such as Titian and Michelangelo as well as visit Laocoon and His Sons by Hellenistic sculptor Laocoon and His Sons which had an enormous effect on him and subsequently inspired much of his later work. Once back home he established relationships with fellow artists Jan Brueghel the Elder and Frans Snyders; purchasing an estate near Antwerp named Steen where he would dedicate much of his time painting landscapes.
Rubens led an active social life and had strong ties to many rulers, dignitaries, and noblemen of his time – giving him access to carry out numerous diplomatic missions and commissions. Rubens became especially fond of Archduchess Isabella of Spain who appointed him an ambassador and painter at her court in 1609.
Even during his extensive travels, Rubens considered Antwerp his home and spent many of his remaining years there. There he painted many portraits for nobility and royalty alike – his paintings being noted for their vibrant colours and bold sensuality.
As well as his religious and hunting pieces, Reynolds was well-known for the nude portraits he painted of women. He particularly enjoyed depicting voluptuous female figures with “meat on their bones”, while depicting an array of feminine body types in many portraits; an influence felt by later artists such as Joshua Reynolds and Anthony van Dyck.
After graduating from Amsterdam Art Academy, Mondrian worked first as a commercial artist before turning his focus toward painting full time. Throughout his artistic journey – which included experiments in Impressionism, Fauvism, theosophy and Fauvism among many other contemporary artistic trends – Mondrian eventually developed grid paintings featuring limited palettes and minimal forms; two notable works include Composition With Lines 1 and Lozenge With Two Lines and Blue as examples of his groundbreaking grids paintings.
Mondrian was initially heavily influenced by the geometric abstraction of De Stijl art movement, established by Van Doesburg to produce art that represented universal beauty. Mondrian left this group due to differences with Van Doesburg but continued using geometric abstraction as his focus in Neo-Plasticism style paintings featuring straight horizontal and vertical lines, right angles, three primary colors (red, yellow and blue), as well as three secondary (grey, white and black) hues in formal vocabulary compositions.
Mondrian sought to eliminate all trace of human emotion from his work, creating paintings which often look unrecognizable as depictions of real objects; for instance, after developing one tree into multiple artistic styles and developing it further through various art techniques it became unrecognizably interlocking lines and planes of color.
Mondrian’s legacy extends far beyond aesthetic considerations and pervades every aspect of daily life, making him one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. His designs can still be seen everywhere from cakes to hotels; some even appear as motifs on jigsaw puzzles! His impactful artwork continues to be celebrated and commemorated today!
Yves Saint Laurent adopted Mondrian’s principles and created dresses that captured his work’s essence, earning great praise from fashion press critics as revolutionary and assertive. These minimalist shapes and colors drew on rigorous conceptual and technical practices that connect fine art to fashion – while embodying an allure similar to Mondrian’s work that endured throughout its creation and subsequent viewings.
McQueen’s fashion shows were an unforgettable spectacle to witness; his incredible world created by clothing was truly extraordinary and made him stand out among his competitors as an innovator who elevated high fashion to new levels.
McQueen made headlines with his No. 13 show, featuring model Shalom Harlow wearing a white dress and standing on a turntable equipped with two robot arms from a car manufacturing factory that began spray painting the model and dress. McQueen used this performance piece as an ingenious way of subtly exploring our modern world through technology while simultaneously foreshadowing future collections where high tech would play a central role.
McQueen was deeply influenced by Romanticism and art from around the globe. His favorite museum was the V&A; often visiting to take in their varied collection – from baskets and balsa wood pieces, which would eventually find their way into his sculptural, ethereal pieces.
McQueen was a maverick and risk taker who sought to link romanticism and postmodernity together through fashion. He borrowed iconography from Victorian literature and Brothers Grimm tales; printed Vietnam War battlefield etchings onto his clothes; and alluded to historical murders such as Jack the Ripper in his designs.
He often used womenswear runways to explore masculine archetypes such as Scottish Highlanders, American Western outlaws and samurai warriors; even using the short hat worn by Spanish matadors in 1997 collection! Furthermore, he loved nature and animals, with 2009 collection known as Horn of Plenty featuring models wearing detritus such as umbrellas upturned, coke cans or baskets on their heads as part of models’ hairpieces!
McQueen was an extremely gifted and charismatic designer whose tragic suicide in 2010 left his label in the hands of Sarah Burton’s creative direction, who continues to push boundaries for the brand. Sarah Burton presented Savage Beauty collection, in September last year as a way of paying homage to Isabella Blow who had been an integral supporter of McQueen; it took inspiration from personal demons to craft stunning yet striking dresses that brought Savage Beauty.