Magazine Features

Fashion & Art 

The relationship between fashion and art is historic but now assumes new heights, becoming much less subtle. By Lina Vaz 


If we take a look at the latest international fashion shows we see that more than ever, art and fashion walk side by side. An inspiration from the art’s world manifests in the irreverence of Jean Paul Gaultier.


Marc Jacobs finds in the graphic game of Op Art a creative elixir. He’s inspired by its different optical illusions to produce his revivalist collection about the 60s euphoria.


The paintings of Mondrian are the leitmotif to Moschino bags, shoes and glasses. They allow a new way of expression and a playful interaction with our own image. Abstract art rejects all sorts of recognisable images, illustrating a free and visionary spirit.


The explosion of Kandinsky is reinterpreted in the collections of Missoni, Paul Smith and Pucci. Sonia Delaunay’s paintings become alive in Ungaro’s collection, with the colour movement in circular patterns that stimulates the senses.

Chris Townsend wrote Rapture, Art’s Seduction by Fashion, published by Thames & Hudson. In this book we can read about the relationship between art and fashion, which already existed during the mid 19th century in Paris: Balzac was paid by Fashion Houses to mention them on his novels.


Today this relationship knows limitless possibilities. Emmanuel Ungaro says that ‘today, the relationship between the fashion designer and the artist is more obvious. For instance, Vanessa Beecroft, she conquered a place in the contemporary art with the help of the Gucci Group. Maybe now it’s fashion that influences art?’


In fact, there are art foundations financed by Fashion Houses such as Fondazione Prada in Milan and Fondation Cartier in Paris. This way, they associate their brand to artistic creativity.


Besides, there are museums dedicated to fashion in the main capitals of the world, and certain cultural centres and galleries exhibit the work of fashion photographers and designers.


Carlos Gouveia is the Portuguese representative of Perclers Paris, a trends forecasting company. Regarding the relationship between fashion and art, Gouveia says that ‘there’s a connection between new art movements and the emergence of trends. But art is not produced with the same ephemeral intention as fashion. Art, apart from having its own movements, is timeless. We cannot confuse them.’


The fusion between fashion was explicit in Louis Vuitton's latest collection, when Marc Jacobs asked the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to redesign the brand’s logo.


The original Louis Vuitton monogram has also been inspired by Japanese art at the time of the Belle Époque, in 1896, when Paris lived a fascination with everything Japanese. Murakami created the Murakami Multicolour Monogram and the Eye Love Monogram, which renewed Louis Vuitton’s image.

Ungaro says ‘the most important element that fashion and art have in common is the fact that they are both creative activities that may have several results: beautiful, provocative, dramatic, profound, irreverent and anguished... But fashion is not art!’ He ends up with a quote from René Char: ‘There is no room for beauty the entire room is beauty’.

Published by Elle Portugal in December 2003. All rights reserved.

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© 2018 Lina Vaz, London.