I recently spent a couple of days in Sydney where I spent my time getting up close and personal with an amazing raft of both Australian and International Designers. While I was unable to take anything home it did allow me to appreciate the talent that it takes to craft such items. A re-occurring thought that I had throughout the entire trip was – “These garments are literally works of art.”
If you have ever been to Josh Goot’s Paddington store you would know that it is very much like walking into an art gallery - and rightfully so. There have been times where I have been disappointed by the look/feel/quality of a piece of clothing that looks amazing online but does not transpire in real life. Not with Josh Goot – I could happily hang a piece of his collection in a frame on my wall (note I say “on my wall” not “in my closet” and I mean it). The same could be said about other collections I saw – Dion Lee, Ellery and Mary Katrantzou (whose digitally printed fabrics display use of the art technique trompe l'oeil), amongst many others.
And it seems that the relationship between fashion and art is having a bit of a moment at present – There has been “an increasing openness among designers about taking inspiration from the art world, and it has only grown more explicit.” (Hettie Judah, Fashion’s Art Fair Love Affair, Business of Fashion 3 December 2013).
When Prada showed its Spring Summer 14 collection in Milan near the end of last year we saw a mural installation created especially for the show by six contemporary female artists – These images were also pride of place in much of the looks. Just last week we saw Burberry Prorsum’s hand painted Fall 14 Collection at London Fashion week. At London Fashion week we also saw the release of Opening Ceremony’s Rene Magritte-inspired collection. And whether you loved it or hated it, you cannot have missed the hand painted Hermes Birkin that Kanye commissioned artist George Condo to do for Kim for Christmas.
To add to the discussion – Last October Karl Lagerfeld turned the Grand Palais catwalk into a full on modern art gallery using 75 commissioned ‘works of art’. This was the backdrop in which Chanel’s Spring Summer 14 collection was showcased. His comment:
“In the past designers were desperate to be socially acceptable, because they were just clothes makers. Now they all want to be recognized as artists. Too many of them have forgotten that their métier is to make dresses” (Quote taken from an article titled "Why so many now regard fashion as art" by Godfrey Deeny, Achtung Zeitgeist).
So, is fashion art? Are designers artists? Is fashion art in its own right or can it only be considered intertwined with the art world through collaboration with artists?
I think that fashion IS a form of art: 1.) I just can’t see how some of the garments that designers create can only be considered "dress making". The talent, to me (a complete lay person), is absolutely incredible. 2.) I think this 'art' aspect also transpires in campaigns and shows (which can be art in their own right) and 3.) If one day I have a wardrobe full of designer items (wishful thinking) the description “art collector” sounds so much better than clothes horse.
And with that in mind I am going to get into the art collection business.