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May 14, 2022
This past weekend was the first time in over two years that Fashion Week was live and it was such an exciting experience to be sitting in person by the runway at Fashion Art Toronto. I love fashion and of course, I love art and both disciplines have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My grandmother (Oma) was a professional knitter and seamstress and I was introduced to clothing design early on. My father was a jazz musician and our household hosted many interesting creatives, not only musicians but artists as well and so too I was introduced to the arts at a young age.
Watching the incredible and artistic designs of emerging and established Canadian designers on the runway, made me think of how much art and fashion coexist. From direct influences to the subtle hints in patterns, art & fashion have always had a closely bonded relationship. Fashion itself has rarely been elevated to the same stature as painting, music, sculpture, or architecture but has by far proven itself to be one of the purest expressions of art because it is art lived on a daily basis and is an expression of oneself.
Art meets Fashion at Fashion Art TorontoUNRAVELLING exhibition by designer Danielle Fagan photographs by Damian Siqueiros
Designers have always sought out artists for inspiration or collaborations, these influences have been most evident with global fashion houses incorporating elements of specific paintings, diverse styles, and fine art elements into their collections. Many examples such as Dutch designerIris Van Herpern creates sculptural designs and continues to push the boundaries between art and the fashion world. Since the founding of her fashion line, Van Herpern has always espoused an interdisciplinary dialogue between art, nature, architecture, fashion, and science. In 2018The Royal Ontario Museum hosted Iris Van Herpen’s incredible exhibition entitled Transforming FashionOne of my favourite designers, Alexander McQueen (now designed by Sarah Burton) used the runway platform to launch collections widely influenced by art. One of his most iconic, the Spring/ Summer 1999 runway show entitled Savage Beautyexemplified this as robotic arms created original abstract paintings directly onto the haute couture gown worn by Shalom Harlow. Designer Virgil Abloh merged art with cutting-edge streetwear. As the founder of Off-White and head of Louis Vuitton menswear, Abloh's artist practice graced all aspects of genres. He often collaborated with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to create memorable exhibitions such as America Too at the famed gallery Gagosian. In 2019 his exhibit at The Contemporary Museum of Chicago entitled Figures of Speech brought all of his artist practices together, from visual art to fashion.Iconic French designer Yves St Laurent was influenced by important 20th-century artists such as Dutch painter Piet Mondrian and in 1965 created an iconic collection of cocktail dresses in an homage to Mondrian. These dresses had graphic black lines and blocks of colour directly referencing the artistic practice of Mondrian. The fabrics were printed and draped in such a way as to not distort the art design. This complex technique required precision cutting, and work-intensive haute couture techniques to create this successful collection.A few designers have also collaborated with artists directly, one of the earliest was between Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli and Surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Schiaparelli ran her fashion house from 1927 into the 50s, fascinated with the Surrealist art movement in 1937 she collaborated directly with Dali producing the famous surreal Lobster DressThe convergence of art and fashion is symbiotic, our dress is an expression of ourselves mirroring that of an artist's canvas. Each garment a brushstroke, and a unique fit while conveying diverse styles. I love the expression of dressing and look forward to the future of fashion as art continues to influence and the next generation of designers create their masterpieces.
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