Who is not familiar with the colorful Mondrian dresses designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1965? Or the mini-dresses with hypnotic optical prints, inspired by op art from the sixties? They illustrate the close relationship that fashion and art have maintained for centuries. Couturiers know better than anyone how to capture the zeitgeist and translate it into their designs. Artists, in turn, have used clothing as a means of expression to shape the overall picture of their ideas. The exhibition Fashion and Art, an affair, designed by Maarten Spruyt and Tsur Reshef, shows that in many cases visual art is a great source of inspiration for designers and that clothing is used by powerful women to distinguish themselves. The show’s highlights include creations by Liberty’s, Sonia Delaunay, Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent, and Givenchy. By the way, do you love art paintings? you can try and learn how to paint window trim without tape on our page!
Fashion and identity
In the 19th century, the role of fashion and the place that art occupies in society changed. Due to increased prosperity and new social relationships, both fashion and art are becoming more and more means to express personal taste and identity. In the Netherlands, around 1900, it is idiosyncratic women such as Aletta Jacobs, the first female doctor in the Netherlands, actors and concert singers who distinguish themselves from the crowd by wearing artistic clothing. Contrary to the prevailing fashion in Paris with waists cinched in tightly by corsets, they wear loose-fitting dresses. These are made of refined fabrics in artistic colors that meet the new demands of the modern woman. Freedom of movement – especially no corset – is of great importance here. Artists such as Henry van de Velde and Piet Zwart were involved in the aesthetic design of this new fashion.
In the 1920s, it was an abstract painting that inspired the successful designer and artist Sonia Delaunay to create various fabric designs. Married to Robert Delaunay and friends with painters such as Mondriaan, Arp, Vantongerloo, and Kandinsky, she belonged to the avant-garde of that time. She translates her abstract paintings into rhythmic designs of rectangles, lines, circles, diagonals, and color areas. Delaunay makes more than 2,000 fabric designs in total. She designs about 200 of these especially for the fashion house Metz & Co in Amsterdam.
Surrealism plays an important role in the clothes and hats of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, Coco Chanel’s major competitor in the 1920s and 1930s. She creates a furor with sweaters with knitted ties or sailor collars and works closely with artists such as Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau. For example, together with the former, she creates her famous lobster-design dress, whose design sketch by fashion house Schiaparelli can also be seen in the exhibition.
Cross-pollination can also often be seen in post-war art. In the 1950s Karel Appel made signed fabric designs, in the 1960s de Bijenkorf sold dresses inspired by op art, and in conjunction with minimalism in the visual arts, there was a great preference for sober, often asymmetrical designs. Fashion is also increasingly regarded as an autonomous work of art. In some creations, such as those of Viktor & Rolf, for example, the boundary between wearability and artistic value is sought.