University of Fashion Blog

Category "Fashion Art"

“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”

Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2013 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2013 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City hosts a fashion inspired exhibit, and its 2018 theme, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” could be their most controversial yet. The juxtaposition of fashion and religious artwork masterpieces will be designed to study fashion’s continuous fascination with the traditional practices of the Catholic Church. The Met has arranged to showcase a group of papal robes and accessories from the Vatican, highlighting the ongoing influence liturgical vestments have on designers.

The exhibition, which in turn prompts the theme for the annual, Vogue-associated Met Gala and its spectacular red carpet parade, will take place on the first Monday of May and the exhibit will open to the public on May 10th.  The Met Gala will be hosted by a trio of fashionable women: Donatella Versace, Rihanna and Amal Clooney. The exhibition will go beyond the usual confines of the Anna Wintour Costume Center, expanding to The Met’s medieval galleries and the Cloisters outpost in northern Manhattan.  According to The New York Times, the exhibition will be the Costume Institute’s largest exhibition to date; depending on how it’s executed, it may also be the most polarizing.

Christopher Kane spring 2017 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christopher Kane spring 2017 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

“We know it could be controversial for right wing or conservative Catholics and for liberal Catholics,” curator Andrew Bolton told the Times. But president and chief executive of the Met Daniel H. Weiss noted that he has “confidence that the exhibition will inspire understanding, creativity and, along the way, constructive dialogue, which is precisely a museum’s role in our civil society.” Bolton also consulted local Catholic leadership in New York, not to mention partnered with the Vatican for parts of the exhibition, hoping that this may help ease tensions felt by the faithful.

“The Roman Catholic Church has been producing and promoting beautiful works of art for centuries,” director of the Holy See press office Greg Burke told the Times. “Most people have experienced that through religious paintings and architecture. This is another way of sharing some of that beauty that rarely gets seen.”

Left: Manuscript Leaf With Scenes From the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian, c. 1320–42, tempera and gold on parchment; right, Evening Dress, Madame Grès, 1969 (Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Left: Manuscript Leaf With Scenes From the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian, c. 1320–42, tempera and gold on parchment; right, Evening Dress, Madame Grès, 1969 (Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The exhibition will not only present The Met’s own religious art collection but will also feature religious garments borrowed from the Vatican, attendees will be able to view 50 ecclesiastical masterworks from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which were never shown outside of the Vatican. These works will be showcased along with papal vestments, rings, tiaras and accessories from more than 15 papacies in the Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries. That area alone will highlight work from the 18th to the early 21st century. The Vatican has not made a loan of this scope to The Met since its exhibition in 1982 entitled, The Vatican Collections: The Papacy and Art, which ranked third as The Met’s most-visited show.

Clothing from 150 designer collections that pay homage to Catholicism, will have their work on display. Designers included are: Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Azzedine Alaïa, Christopher Kane, John Galliano for the House of Dior, Claire McCardell, Madeleine Vionnet, Isabel Toledo, Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons for his own label and the House of Dior.

Jeremy Scott Fall 2017 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jeremy Scott Fall 2017 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The fashion component will be mostly woman’s wear from the early 20th century to present. The exhibit is meant to provide an interpretative context for fashion’s engagement with Catholicism. The designs are meant to be considered within the broader context of religious artistic production to analyze their connection to the historiography of material, Christianity and their contribution to the perceptual construction of the Catholic imagination, according to press material provided by The Met.

Chanel on the cover of Vogue, November 1988 (photo by Peter Lindbergh)

Chanel on the cover of Vogue, November 1988 (photo by Peter Lindbergh)

As you can see, fashion has long borrowed from the Catholic Church’s rich visual history; From Dolce & Gabbana sending religious imagery down the runway to pop stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga, using clothing to set themselves up as new ‘spiritual icons’. Fashion’s relationship with the Catholic Church and churches in general, have  always been somewhat provocative. During London Fashion Week 2017, a bitter row  erupted with leading clerics after Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu used an historic church to showcase her collection, with models dressed as devils and vampires sashaying in front of the altar. And who can forget Madonna’s controversy by inappropriately using Christian imagery in her songs, videos and concerts with songs like “Like a Virgin” (1984) to “Like a Prayer” (1989) and her Confessions Tour in 2005 ?

Do you think the Met’s exhibit is a marketing ploy to increase the number of museum-goers or one that hopes to bring the fashion world and the Catholic Church together?

Versace Spring 2018 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Versace Spring 2018 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons:

Art of the In-Between  

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

Is fashion art? This has always been a debate among the creative crowd, but a walk through this year’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute spring 2017 exhibit, the answer is clear.  The exhibition focuses on the avant-garde works of Rei Kawakubo, the reclusive founder and designer behind the cult label Comme des Garçons. The fashion forward exhibition, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, is on view from May 4 through September 4, 2017.

The show examines Kawakubo’s obsession with the space between boundaries. Her aesthetic can be viewed as unsettling at times, but upon close examination, her work wavers on creative genius. Kawakubo challenges the conventional perception of beauty, good taste, and fashion. A thematic exhibition, rather than a traditional retrospective, this is The Costume Institute’s first single-subject show on a living designer since the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in 1983.

“Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time.”

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Walking through the exhibit it is clear that Kawakubo has blurred the line between art and fashion. She is pushing us to think differently about clothing. Her creations are sculptural, intelligent and creative. She deconstructs fashion to the core. Her genius is that she is challenging us to think differently about fashion and beauty. According to Francesca Sterlacci, the Founder/CEO of University Of Fashion, “She challenged the status quo meaning of clothes and succeeded in disrupting the notion of  ‘traditional beauty.’ In light of the controversy over body fat and body shaming, Kawakubo sends a powerful message.”

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

The exhibition showcases approximately 120 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear designs for Comme des Garçons, dating from her first runway show in 1981 to her most recent collection. The white-walled exhibit is broken into nine dominate and recurring aesthetic expressions in Kawakubo’s work: Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, High/Low, Then/Now, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. Each section examines the “in-betweenness.”  The exhibit guidebook suggests a pathway through the circular layout inhabited by puzzle-piece-like structures framing the looks, but guests also are encouraged to choose their own adventures and let their imaginations go wild.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

In her career, the 74-year old designer has been hailed a revolutionary; she has managed to break down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness. Her fashions demonstrate the endless possibilities to rethink the female body and feminine identity. The exhibit reflects Kawakubo’s enduring interest in blurring the boundaries between body and dress.

Studying Kawakubo’s work it becomes clear, she loves to experiment with forms and clearly ignores the norm — she is in a constant search for “newness.” Her clothes are sculptural objects, non-functional at times, but maybe we should forget about clothing and we should view Kawakubo’s work as a true contemporary artist whose tools involve fabrics, utility and the body.

Rei Kawakubo said, “I have always pursued a new way of thinking about design…by denying established values, conventions, and what is generally accepted as the norm. And the modes of expression that have always been most important to me are fusion…imbalance… unfinished… elimination…and absence of intent.” A hallmark of the Japanese philosophy of wabi-wabi.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

To learn more about Rei Kawakubo and other key players in the fashion industry, pick up the second edition of “The Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry” (due out in August) by UoF’s founder Francesca Sterlacci, as well as checking out Google’s latest project “We Wear Culture” – Now the world will get to see Kawakubo’s genius.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

 

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

 

 

 

 

Is Fashion Art? You Bet it is!

For decades, fashion scholars have debated whether fashion should be considered an art form or whether it is solely a craft. Some believe that due to the utilitarian aspect of fashion, it should not be considered art. However, much like famous Impressionist artists of the 19th century, such as Claude Monet, Georges Seurat and Vincent van Gogh, fashion designers also use their creativity as a form of self expression. This becomes even more apparent when fashion designers collaborate with artists. A glance back into fashion history reveals many collaborations between artists and fashion designers, beginning in the early 1900s. Paul Poiret, the first couturier to fuse art and fashion, worked with with prominent artists and illustrators including Georges Lepage, Erté, Georges Barbier and Raoul Duffy. In the 1930s, Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated with surrealist artists Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau and Christian Bérard.

schiaparelli-art-jacket-jean-cocteau

Evening jacket designed by Elsa Schiaparelli in collaboration with Jean Cocteau (Image Credit: metmuseum.org)

During the 1960s, pop artist Andy Warhol joined with Yves Saint Laurent who used Warhol’s Campbell soup can imagery from his paintings to create a series of A-line paper dresses, one called “The Souper Dress.”

souper-dress

The Souper Dress featuring Andy Warhol’s soup can graphics (Image Credit: metmuseum.org)

Fast forward to the 21st century. Marc Jacobs, while creative director at Louis Vuitton, collaborated with artists to reinvent the iconic LV logo handbag: Stephen Sprouse’s scrawled silver graffiti (2000), Takashi Murakami’s animated motifs (2004), Richard Prince’s “nurse” prints (2008) and Yayoi Kusama’s polka dots (2012).

louis-vuitton-stephen-sprouse

Louis Vuitton animated motifs bag in collaboration with Takashi Murakami

takashi murukami-louis-vuitton

Louis Vuitton animated motifs bag in collaboration with Stephen Sprouse

louis-vuitton-polka-dot-red-bag

Yayoi Kusama’s polka dotted Louis Vuitton bag
(Image source: NY Times)

In 2016, designer Nicolas Ghesquière channeled California and continued the trend of artistic bags with the LV Petite Malle (small truck) for Cruise ’16.

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louis vuitton

Louis Vuitton Petite Malle clutch

For the past couple of seasons, the trend of marrying art and fashion has become even stronger. Christopher Kane’s gown with nude figure patterns was amongst the most talked about at Met Gala 2015 when worn by FKA Twigs.

fka-twigs-met-gala-2015

FKA twigs wearing a Christopher Kane gown at Met gala 2015 (Image source: Daily Mail)

Moschino introduced pop culture and graffiti-inspired art in its Fall Winter 2015 collection. The graffiti gown and matching gloves from this collection was later worn by Katy Perry, also at the MET gala.

katy-perry-met-gala-2015

Katy Perry in Moschino gown at Met gala 2015 (Image Source: US Weekly)

For their Spring Summer 2016 collection, Dolce & Gabbana paid tribute to Italy with dresses featuring imagery depicting different cities and their names – Roma, Venezia, Portofino amongst others.

dolce-gabbana-roma-dress dolce-gabbana-venezia-dress
Featured above: Dolce & Gabbana dress with artwork depicting Roma and Venezia

Pierpaolo Piccioli collaborated with Zandra Rhodes for Valentino’s Spring Summer 2017 collection, creating gowns with prints of the Hieronymus Bosch painting, the Garden of Earthly Delights.

valentino-art-outfit-ss17-dress

Valentino Spring Summer 2017

A maxi dress from Alice+Olivia’s Spring/Summer 2017 ready-to-wear collection depicts a caricature of CEO/designer Stacey Bendet, sporting red lips and round sunglasses.

alice-olivia-art-dress

Alice+Olivia Spring Summer 2017 (Image Credits: Vogue)

Marques’ Almeida added intricate floral art on their dresses, shorts, blouses and trousers.

Marques-Almeida-art-dress

Marques’ Almeida Spring Summer 2017

At Dior, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri introduced feminine gowns and embroidered tulle dresses with tarot cards, cosmic and floral-inspired art with names like “Le Monde”, “La Lune” and “Le Soleil.”

dior-art-dress-gown

Dior Spring Summer 2017

dior-art-black-dress-gown

Dior Spring Summer 2017

Scholars will continue to debate whether fashion is really art, but we at the University of Fashion believe it is, especially when created in collaboration with artists!

Learn more about fashion history, past and present, with our costume history lessons: 100 Years of Fashion Rebels & Revolutionaries, Parts 1 & 2, Keeping Up With the Jones and Wheels Reels & Automobiles.

2014: A Year of Twists, Details, Knits, New Beginnings and Looking Back

For the University of Fashion, 2014 has been the year of new video series. For University of Fashion students, this means in depth learning in each of our disciplines. This year, we have taken our students beyond basic skills and offered lessons to stretch, inspire and encourage you to take the next step in your fashion design career. Below, find a few of 2014 series highlights, including a just-added draping video. Read More

Find Your Sketching Voice

- - Fashion Art

Your sketching voice is as unique as you are.  In a time where designers have access to Photoshop, Illustrator and a number of other CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs, your individual sketching voice becomes more valuable, because no program can create what your hand can sketch.   The University of Fashion is launching a new video series on Finding Your Sketching Voice in which we will help you find your voice, as well as consider how your sketching style assists in defining your aesthetic and brand. Read More

Drawing Design Details: Side Pleats, Ruffle Pleats and Smocking

Saint Laurent, Rodarte and Christopher Kane are just a few design houses that make good use of the design details (as seen above) we are featuring this week in our newest Fashion Art videos.  In our latest round of illustration videos with Roberto Calasanz, we show you how to map and shade Side Pleats, Ruffle Pleats and Smocking.  Coincidentally, we found all three of these design details in Karen Walker’s 2015 Resort collection.  The following examples illustrate how learning Fashion Art skills with the University of Fashion’s videos can be translated into unique designs. Read More

Drawing Design Details: Ruffles, Pleats and Panniers

Popping up on recent runways and sure to be a staple for Fall 2014, ruffles and pleats are having quite a fashion moment.  Just in trend-driven time, the University of Fashion brings you a new series of Fashion Art videos dedicated to drawing design details.  In the first of our new Fashion Art videos, we show you how to illustrate a Cascade Neck Ruffle, a Cascade Skirt Ruffle,  Accordion Pleats and a Draped Pannier-Cowl.
Read More