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Some people view art as this far away concept that they can’t reach — unattainable, outdated and distant. The truth is, it’s none of those things. Art is the most important insight into our present and our past; I know this sounds dramatic but just go with me on this.
Before written language existed, there was art. It was how people communicated, and it is still how people communicate today. Most people, even after the invention of writing, were illiterate up until the 20th century. As a result, governments, religious leaders and the aristocracy used art to communicate their ideals and desires to the people.
The pope used art to bring people back to the catholic church after the reformation. Napoleon and the revolutionaries used art as a form of propaganda during the revolutionary wars in France. And the reason we have political cartoons isn’t because someone decided they’re fun to draw, but because they make us think.
But then, how does fashion fit in to all of this? Fashion (if you hadn’t noticed) is art — it’s the art we live our lives in, the art of the everyday and mundane. Fashion is inspired by art and vice versa. The same way in which we are given insight into our history, we are given insight through past fashions and styles.
Specific articles of clothing didn’t just manifest themselves, they were created for a purpose — sometimes practical, and usually misogynistic when it came to women’s fashion. For example, chokers can were used to identify prostitutes in the 19th century, and in western Europe the higher the height of your heel, the higher you were in the social order.
Now, we wear clothes because they’re trendy or comfortable or we just feel good in them. But art and fashion are always intermixing so here are a few of my favorite pieces that represent the relationship between the two.
The Mondrian Dress
A style by Yves Saint Laurent that first hit runways in the Fall/Winter of 1965, the Mondrian dress was inspired by Piet Mondrian a Modern artist known for his primary color cubism. The dress, and styles like it, was wildly popular in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Simple in form featuring dramatic color blocking, the dress perfectly represents the style of that time.
Art Deco Fashion and Jewelry
When we think of the ‘20s, we think of flappers and beaded shift dresses, and lots and lots of pearls. But where did the shapes and silhouettes of the ‘20s come from? Skyscrapers. The intricate lines and curves of modern architecture inspired designers to mimic those shapes in clothing. Both simple and eye catching, Art Deco remains one of the most loved eras for fashion and architecture.
The McDonald’s Collection
In the Fall/Winter of 2014 Moschino stuck to its signature quirky style and came out with a collection using the iconic red and yellow color scheme of McDonalds and mimicking their “M” logo. At a first glance, this might just seem like a fun and silly collection made to poke fun at McDonalds. In reality, it’s heavily inspired by pop art and the overarching theme of consumerism at the time, which is increasingly relevant now.
Murakami x Vans
A very accessible line, Vans is one of the most popular sneaker companies for just about anyone. Murakami, on the other hand, is a Japanese artist known for his flower prints. All of Murakami’s artwork is made to look printed but is actually precisely and meticulously hand-painted. Vans came out with a collection of sneakers featuring the iconic Murakami designs.
Murakami for Louis Vuitton
If you couldn’t tell, I really love Murakami. Not only does he find time to paint larger than life paintings, he also manages to work with some of the biggest fashion giants in the world — including Louis Vuitton. If you still aren’t sure who Murakami is I’ll give you a hint, he designed the artwork for Kanye West’s album “Graduation.” Ever seen the Louis Vuitton’s with the rainbow-colored LV symbols or the pink flowers? That was him too.