IS IT FASHION OR ART

Is fashion art? And if not, where is the line dividing the two? For many years the controverse debate, if fashion is frivolous and useless or deeply embedded in the world of art is going on and never-ending. Long have the times passed in which fashion merely was a protection against the elements, made to cover you and keep you warm. Today fashion is a form of self-expression and in that regard similar to art. What we put on our walls or openly admire says something about the person, in the same way, the clothes on ones back speak volumes about the wearer. Both is part of the face we want to show the world rather than reality and will be curated or actively ignored. But one thing is obvious: it is impossible to not communicate with the choices made. Maybe that does make fashion performance art, which requires the active participant, the person who puts on the item and shows it off. But wouldn’t that again question the artistic integrity, as a real-life person rarely wears a full runway look (besides some influencers). Up to us, this is what actually makes the wearer part of the performance and part artist. The creative expression is part of the individual and the new design, based on body, aesthetic and location a garment is worn to. 

Plenty of designers took not only inspiration from nature but likewise from artists and architecture. For some brands that weren’t enough and they collaborated with the artists in a direct manner. Most notably and artistically creative has been the partnership between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali, who did both, collaborate and inspire one another. Others do it more regularly and commercially, like Louis Vuitton. From the infamous Takashi Murakami collaboration to the bold Jeff Koons creations many designs have been seen from the runway to carefully curated exhibitions. 

When it comes to exhibitions many people take special care of what to wear. Like the cliché of architects, many opt for an all-black look. That is because it is the safest bet, the choice you will and cannot get criticized for. Is it to let the art shine and not take attention away from it? Or is it to not clash with the art? Or just a social norm? And what is the difference between a gallery opening and a fashion show or re-see? Don’t some shop windows look exactly like works of art? And taking this point of view, is a H&M dress copying a Chanel design the same as the art-prints at ikea? This parallel might be too easy to draw but oftentimes a high-end design, which is art or art adjacent is created and then copied so often that it is losing its artistic appeal. It could also be, that a mass-produced product is not art, as it is to openly available, which would leave only the highest form of dress as art: Haute Couture. 

Haute Couture can be a collector’s piece. Creators like Iris van Herpen craft items that have one thing with many works of art in common: They are actually impractical or even useless. Not to say they aren’t magnificent to look at and of craftsmanship rarely to be found today anymore but the garments are not wearable or useable in the way that they are purposed to be made for. But to attribute uselessness to an object to be considered art would be disappointing. Art should be a form of self-expression and beauty and therefore the definition should not be limited in that manner. 

If it is art in general, a frivolous sub-category or a performance piece is something that can impossibly be determined in such a short collection of thoughts and ideas but ultimately it is something, which needs to be decided by the individual. As people have their own opinion about each work of art and what actually is art to begin with, it is impossible to come to an ultimate conclusion. All we have to say to that is: back in the day when fashion wasn’t mass-produced and each item was created to last for a long time, before brands skimped out on linings to save their bottom line and when designers were not forced to create unimaginable amounts of SKUs and garments at the cost of creativity it was easier to say that a piece of clothing is art. But the days of items being carefully crafted, designed and taken care of by the wearer are gone and so is some of the artistry. Just after the MET Gala it is out of the question, that certain pieces of fashion, vintage or contemporary still can be real pieces of art, to be collected kept, loved but also worn and enjoyed. 

In conclusion here are some rare or vintage pieces, where it is hard to distinguish between the two – art or fashion. 

VERSACE

The stunning two-piece costume can be dated back to the fall/winter 1990 collection of Versace. Typical for Versace the set is boldly colorful and is boasting loud prints. Back then the patterns already had a royal feel – the first baroque prints omnipresent today. In addition, they are gold-colored for a more royal feel. Showcasing grandeur, glamour, and femineity this was the height of Versace, turning from the opulence of the 80s to a sleeker look for the 90s.  

Our picture of reference showed that the look has been worn by Christy Turlington, one of the original supermodels. This is adding another layer of glamour and excitement to this true vintage gem, made for collectors or daring fashion icons.  

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TZURI GUETA

Tzuri Gueta is not only an artist but as well an accessory designer. The clutch, hand-made in Paris, has been created of the designer’s signature material: lace injected with silicone. This has not only been done for small objects and accessories but as well on a large scale for decorative elements. This artist manipulates materials to express themes of importance to him: nature, sea and organic shapes in general. Looking at this Aroma clutch many associations from nature can come to mind, from a beautiful coral in the sea to a rare mushroom in the rainforest. In conclusion, this small bag can easily pass as a sculpture in a gallery or a piece of art to be carried around – perfect for evening occasions or gallery openings. 

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MONTANA

Claude Montana has been the darling of 80s fashion. Due to his daring use of color and generous number of designs featuring board shoulders he could dominate the fashion scene at the time. In the late 80s his designs became softer, of which this could be a prime example. This geometric shape due to the construction of the straps in combination with the neckline should be around fall 1988 due to the trapeze created. This new design idea replacing the very broad shoulders is softened further with the structured hem, creating a flowing, asymmetric seam around the wearer. Made of lightweight chiffon in bright orange the garment is ready for another summer season. 

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VALENTINO

Italian glamour could be a synonym for Valentino. The big pleats in the back of the coat reinforce this perception by being classic yet fabulous in shape. While walking or spinning around the coat will create a voluminous and dramatic effect on the wearer. A piece that has not lost any creative geniality since its introduction in the late 80s to 90s. This as well stems from the usage of mainly clean lines in bright colors with unexpected details. 

The bright pink is perfect for a transitional coat, making it fun and adaptable. In addition to that, we currently cannot get enough of a Valentino magenta, ever since Pierpaolo Piccioli showed us 81 looks in a bold pink for fall/winter 2022. 

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50S BAG

In the 50s handbags made of Gobelin have been all the rage. Way back in the day, when people lived in castles and houses without central heating the material mainly has been used for decorative, even artistic, as well as practical and insulating wall decorations. Much later a flower-patterned versions became omnipresent, from dainty evening bags to bigger and darker daytime bags. This example here is showcasing delicate flowers on a white background. In a typical vintage manner, it features a big clasp as a closure – giving us an oversized coin purse with a strap. 

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Another piece of art, beautifully referencing nature but with a much more modern take regarding the message as well as material is this Alexander McQueen dress 

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CHANTAL THOMASS

Today the brand Chantal Thomass is known for luxurious and delicate lingerie. Back in the 60s, the founding days of the brand, they focused on ready-to-wear. It took them another 15 years to put a focus on lingerie. But from day one on the garments were sexy and sensual and rich in detail, featuring ribbons or flounces, made of high-quality materials.

This example comes with boning and a body-hugging silhouette. The strings of shimmering, black pearls are not only beautifully contrasting the dark red velvet but also give the dress a more sensual appearance. The dress from the 1980s is clearly referencing lingerie and is even for today very sexy.

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Don’t like the dark red? Here is another dress with a similar structure and attention to artistry and craftsmanship in a very different vibe. 

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RAFAEL SANCHEZ

The Designer founded his namesake brand in 1977. Famed by publications as Vogue or the New York Magazine his work has been immortalized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was as multifaceted as few creative masterminds, creating costumes and scenery for stage performances, jewelry and accessories. This small box bag in dark green as well shows his attention to detail. A shiny material is decorated with a shoulder strap made of a thick cord, decorated with pearls is a beautiful companion from afternoon delight to nighttime extravaganza. 

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  • 50s BAG

    Regular price €30,00 EUR
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    50s BAG
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  • CHANTAL THOMASS

    Regular price €135,00 EUR
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  • RAFAEL SANCHEZ

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  • VALENTINO | MISS V

    Regular price €45,00 EUR
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  • TZURI GUETA

    Regular price €245,00 EUR
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  • VERSACE

    Regular price €840,00 EUR
    Regular price €885,00 EUR Sale price €840,00 EUR
    VERSACE
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