My work requires me to mine and analyse on whatever the fashion brands do to attract consumers. More specifically, I work for brands in the luxury sector, (think the biggest name you can) trying to make sense of why they do what they do. To say everything is ‘bizarre’ in this universe will be an understatement. However, a common emphasis is on the art in fashion.
Art is a vehicle for the expression or communication of emotions and ideas. It is a means for exploring and appreciating formal elements for their own sake, and as mimesis or representation. Art as mimesis has deep roots in the philosophy of Aristotle.
Fashion and art are almost symbiotic, too. So much so that if you ask a person from the fashion industry to explain their brand positioning, strategy, collection, or campaigns, they can hardly go on without using this word. Even the n number of movies I’ve watched on fashion, be it a documentary, a mass-movie, or even a comic rip-off, all emphasize more than anything on art. So, today, we discuss, what Art really means in the fashion context. Moreover, explore, if Art is really is all that important when it comes to Fashion.
First of all, their is no easier way of saying this but this topic is controversial. I don’t intend to stir any debates. However, I do invite thoughts on your understanding and observations. Since, I’m a firm believer of not everyone can know everything, I’ll present whatever I know and invite whatever I can/should.
To quantify the available arguments, I came up with few broad points on why the world of fashion may be so closely connected to art. Depending on where you come from, you can also use the same logic to understand whether the fashion world is obsessed with art or is so dependant on it.
1. Subjectivity and freedom
Art is a broad term, and I think that, it is the subjectivity of the word that helps the fashion veterans and newbies leverage on it as an explanation. In the context of fashion, which is visually driven, creative interpretation, aesthetic and imagination, is what it is directly correlated to.
Dior, for example, constantly engages to rebrand itself and stay relevant. Say Dior fairytale collection in haute couture to bring back the original Dior aesthetics of the Dior lady following ‘we should all be feminists’ to make bold statements of contemporary activism. It is one of the finest examples of mixing heritage with modernity, if experts are to be believed.
Everyone can be an artist in their own demeanour. Therefore the freedom it entails is immense. Moreover, sometimes, something that stirs your emotions in an impactful way can only be described as art due to lack of better words and thus it becomes a necessity even on an etymological level.
2. Difference between Ridiculousness and Grandeur
If you google for the love affair between art and fashion, the Google Arts and Culture actually starts you out an informative article with a contemporary reference from Louis Vuitton. A capsule collection of the luxury label’s signature bags printed with Old Masters paintings like the Mona Lisa. The vision of American artist Jeff Koons, the Masters LV x Koons collection sees works by Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Rubens, Fragonard and Titian wrapped around dainty purses, bowling bags, and totes. It also features the artists’ names written large in bold gold letters to educate those without the immediate cultural reference.
The collection was met with mixed reviews. Even for a lover of the brand, lover of the paintings, the lover of the artists or designers involved, the curation may be a little bizarre. However, with the context of ‘art’ in mind, it is automatically less than reprehensible. (I personally am a fan, though.)
Hence, maybe, subjectivity isn’t the only reason why art becomes a perfect explanation for any concept, it is also the creative freedom it ensues. After all, the thin line between ridiculousness and grandeur may just lie in your understanding of art or art in fashion.
3. The Decoration and Representation
A long circulated, veteran quote from the world of fashion says – “what is fashion if not wearable art”. Campaigns and collections today are becoming increasingly about ‘wearing what represents your personality or beliefs’. So, in this context, one can safely assume that art is a representation tool of the personal aesthetic for decoration.
Take the latest Gucci Space campaign for example, they took out of this world to its literal meaning. But the art is in the versatility and open interpretation of the campaign. The art is in its representation.
So, when the collections and campaigns are so intricately designed with art at the focus, does the fashion consumer need to be equally well versed with art, if not more, to truly appreciate it? Well, maybe. However, fashion isn’t a business of anarchy in today’s world. It even derives inspiration from the street wear, as I talked about in my last article.
What is all this fuss about then?
The simplest definition of Art describes it is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author’s imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. Which means that as long as a collection, campaign, brand, ideology, or a trend is able to make you feel something, you’re standing at the right crossroad when it comes to art in fashion.
However, a holistic awareness of ‘why are you feeling that’ will always help you decide whether to take the step forward or turn away.
“Fashion is, above all, an Art of Change.” – John Galliano
What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss in the comment section below. I would love to get some more insights on this ever-burning topic.
Thanks for reading! If you’re new around here, I write a travel in style blog, with a vision to inspire, strengthen and empower. If that’s something that excites you, keep following, Ertsy. Till then, be your own desire!