Is Fashion Art?
A relevant question or a study of linguistics. Truth is that Fashion is consistently being elevated to the status of art. Proof of it is the rampant number of fashion exhibitions at prestigious international art museums, documentaries, and films at art cinema houses. Moreover, such events generate massive interest and visitor numbers.
Is Fashion Art? Exhibitions in Museums
This question has unfolded in fantastic exhibitions, from ‘Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion’ and ‘Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up’ to the much-awaited ‘Mary Quant’, all at the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum.
But the phenomena ‘Fashion as Art’ is not exclusive to London. The traveling exhibition ‘Manolo Blahnik. The Art of Shoes’ that went from Toronto to Milan and St. Petersburg, ‘Jil Sander Present Tense’ at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt a.M., and ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’ at the MET in New York demonstrate how global the concept of ‘Fashion as Art’ has become.
Wonderful portrait documentaries such as ‘Dries’ directed by Reiner Holzemer, ‘We Margiela’ by mint film office in collaboration with AVROTROS and ‘McQueen’ by Ian Bonhote and Peter Ettedgui, just to mention a few, help the public understand and feel close to the designers’ creative process and unique philosophies.
Previously, on view at Moco Museum, Daniel Arsham is known for his architectural interventions that subtly manipulate the physical environment thus questioning our established notions of space, time, and experience. His collaboration with Adidas is a wonderful example of the crossover between art and fashion. For the launch of the Adidas Originals Future shoe, Arsham and Benny Nicks created an art film that seamlessly ties this shoe in mythological fashion with the rest of his artistic oeuvre.
Is Fashion Art? as an artistic discipline
Of course. Fashion is an artistic discipline in itself, with its own history, know-how, craftmanship, fashion houses, professionals, industry, and culture.
“Fashion matters. To the economy, to society and to each of us personally. Faster than anything else, what we wear tells the story of who we are – or who we want to be. (…) Fashion is a multi-billion industry that employs a whole host of professionals, including designers, manufacturers, garment workers, retailers, hairstylists, make-up artists, merchandisers, journalists, photographers and models.”- Frances Corner, Head of London College of Fashion.
From the catwalk to the streets and right into the museum. Today we observe, how Fashion distilled from High Couture into everyday life and the other way around, as street style found its way into the catwalk, how Fashion became a form of activism, appropriated and disseminated through magazines, museum exhibitions and documentaries.
Dutch museums equally engage in this artistic discipline crossover. ‘Femmes Fatales Strong Women in Fashion’ currently on display at the Gemeente Museum in Den Haag explores the overlooked history of women designers in Fashion, from the historical wins of Parisian seamstresses to today’s debate on feminism and women’s rights in Fashion.
Fashion As Art in The Netherlands
Fashion as Art was equally featured in ‘Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years’ at the Kunsthal Rotterdam. Showcasing the uncompromising beauty, extraordinary craftmanship and conceptual strength of Viktor&Rolf Haute Couture collections. ‘Wearable Art’ and ‘Van Gogh Girls’ literally exploring the link between Fashion and Art.
“Throughout their illustrious career, Viktor&Rolf have carved a contradictory identity that pushes the boundaries between art and fashion, often contrasting romance and rebellion, exuberance and control, classicism and conceptualism,” the press release explains.
From the 7th until the 10th of March, there will be the Amsterdam Fashion Week. So if the answer to the question is Yes, this could be an art event as well.
The answer to the question: Is Fashion art?
Yet, it is Dutch Fashion Designer Iris van Herpen that comes to mind as the perfect contemporary answer to the question “Is Fashion Art?”.
With grace, continuously pushing the boundaries of fashion design, Iris van Herpen blends the traditional Couture craftsmanship with unconventional materials, 3D printing, inventing new forms and techniques to build her garments.
Her singular out-of-the-box and forward-thinking work has been featured in international leading museums, attained numerous prestigious awards, made headlines with world-renown collaborations, among which Björk, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, her first 3D printed dress named by Times magazine as one of the 50 Best Inventions of 2011.
The idea that Fashion is Art is seeing incredible vitality. Beyond its industry and professionals, beyond the catwalk or even the every day, Beyond the catwalk, fashion is in the museum attracting millions and inviting them to look at it from an art perspective.