Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When Art Met Fashion

Fashion is art, and you live your life in it. Or at least that's what Stanley Tucci professes to Anne Hathaway because emotional speech in The Devil Wears Prada, and, lets be honest, we could all learn something or two from that film. There have been hundreds of collaborations between designers and artists over the years, from Levis and Damien Hurst to Elsa Shiaparelli and Salvador Dali, but here are a few you might actually one day desire to wear (I won't broach the main topic of David Lynch Louboutin's – seriously, unless you can levitate, these are a no go).

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The most striking coupling of art and fashion remains Yves Saint Laurent's first foray into the abstract. The Mondrian Dress' is so beautifully full of swinging sixties sexiness it resides in the Metropolitan Museum. It's become a true masterpiece and is curated as a result. The mini shift dress was in good company, appearing along side an entire collection of garments inspired by Mondrian's block colour patterns.

Big blocks of colour were also the result of a meeting of minds involving the artist Daniel Buren and top creative agencies Marc Jacobs iPad, creator of the SS13 collection for Louis Vuitton. Buren was roped in to develop a set for the catwalk show, which was staged in the centre courtyard of the Louvre. The modern artist, fabled for his use of colourful horizontal hoses in vast spaces, created a yellow spectrum and white chequer board floor, complete with escalators down which the similarly clad models could descend (as if their job wasn't straighforward enough). The block–like bralets and mini skirts and the streamlined maxi-skirts channelled the structured nature of Buren's work and were, let's face it, to die for.

Andy Warhol's infamous hand was once commissioned in the name of fashion when Carmel Snow and Alexi Brodovic asked the pop-art master to create illustrations for Harper's Bazaar in the 1950s, furthering Warhol's notion that art is for everybody. The sketches of dresses, shoes and perfume bottles were a real tour de force: they are currently being exhibited included in a larger collection of the pop artist's work at the Tate Liverpool until mid-February.

Mrs Prada went one step further into the breach, and commissioned street artists from around the globe to inspire her SS14 collection. The marvellous murals lined the walls of the catwalk; their colours and portraits of women were transposed onto the dresses, coats and skirts of the collection. This not quite 'street style' though. No, what Prada spawned were sophisticated ensembles for those wealthy few who can afford to swan about in Prada, whilst exhibiting the art of those who surely could not dream of wearing such items – and, quite possibly, wouldn't desire to. The whole tableau left me wondering whether the murals might have looked more at home, and much more spectacular, on the side of a high rise building in Brazil. But there's no denying the sheer beauty of the designs and the brilliant innovation of the collaboration.

When art marries fashion, it spawns truly cutting-edge hybrid brainchildren. I wait impatiently to see what the next generation of partnerships gives rise to: until then, raise your glass with me in wishing art and fashion all the best in what should be a long and beautiful relationship.

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