Collection: ISHE: Visual Research Journal

Fashion as Art

tw1975 (2012) John Berger / Ways of Seeing, Episode 3 (1972). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7wi8jd7aC4 (Accessed: 11 October 2015)
 
In European art history, to own oil paintings was a way to express one's wealth and to celebrate private processions. Similarly to fashion, owning a collection of Herme Berkin suggests one's social status because not everyone with money can own them. Fashion or art, to own the latest collection or to own the oldest painting of a famous painter is for one to appreciate his/her subjective interest. 
 
Art and fashion are both subjective, so they're similar in a way. A painting can be interpreted in different ways depending on one's background, tastes, opinion, and cultural experience. This also applies to fashion because not everyone would appreciate a leotard print on a coat and not everyone would want to wear a black dress to work everyday, and this is what creates a diversity within our society. 
 
Furthermore, in paintings, nobles and royalties are depicted in certain way that make us as viewers realized what social status they are in. The use of cloth can tell us so much about who the person in the painting is, at the same time,is the cloth in those paintings considered as fashion? The silk and satin the nobles wear had changed very little overtime, while fashion is something that's a constant change. So, does the garment in the painting should be considered more of just cloth and not fashion? This is a point I need to do further research on. 
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Photographed by me at Mademoiselle Prive Chanel Saatchi Gallery on 30 Nov 2015

These were part of the couture embroidery from Chanel exhibition, which were put into frames reflecting the work and craftsmanship behind them. The idea that somebody must have carefully fold the fabric or attach the feather carefully makes these work special. If these texture were to be seen on a body as a part of a haute couture dress, I wouldn't have paid so much attention on the details, as I would be focusing on how the dress looks as a whole and how it works with the body. In contrast, when the textiles are displayed like this, they are art. They allows the audience to have an intimate observation with the piece, and therefore, realize the design and craft behind these pieces, whereas, if they were to be on the dress, only the person wearing the garment would be able to feel the authenticity from the it, but the person would still be wearing the luxury wearable art in return.

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http://zone7style.blogspot.co.uk (Accessed 13 Nov 2015)

In high-end brands' garment, the label is like a painter's signature. The value in the brand identity can be considered as an artist's identity especially in couture collection. In this image, the sizing of the garment is written by the artisan who made this particular piece, communicating to the costumer that somebody has been putting the garment together and not just random mass-production in the factory. A hand written label is like when the artist describe his/her own art piece at the back of the canvas to tell oneself that this was how the piece was made, and the same goes to carefully crafted and designed fashion where the measurement is specific suitable only to a particular costumer. 

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The Power of Fashion: About Design and Its Meaning P.343

"In May 1995 the artist Silvia Kolbowski and the architect Peter Eisenman, working collaboratively, installed an artwork in the Comme des Garcons store on Wooster Street in New York's SoHo district. The installation consisted of a skeletal wooden structure which partially blocked the view of the store's interior form the street and acted as a new, and restricting, form of entrance, a video on a monitor within this framework, and a poster displayed in the store's window which was also distributed as a small two-color hand-out" (Brand, et al., 2006).

Similar to window display/installations at Comme des Garcons' retails like the Dover Street Market around the world, the brand has collaborated with artists to bring in art element into commodities side of fashion. The experience is enhanced for the customers to just come into the store and to buy clothing or just to simply browse the store. The installation clearly shows the brand's interest in the arts, thus, communicates to its audience that Comme des Garcons is not just a trend fashion brand. It is the experience with wearable art, which is still questionable whether the clothing is wearable in real life or not.

 

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Ebesp (2006) Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 1999-Creating an Art Piece. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reK0A1XIjKA (Accessed: 24 October 2015).

In some fashion shows, fashion is shown as a part of performance. Fashion may not be fully considered as art, but it can definitely be performance art. For SS1999 show from Alexander McQueen, the finale was performed by a model, who was wearing a white strapless dress. She stood on a circular floor which then turns around. She looked lost and was scared at the same time. Eventually the painting machines beside her started to splash black and neon yellow on her dress randomly. She stood up gracefully embracing the art work that was being created on her dress and walked off the runway as if she's dancing and enjoying her the new version of the dress. 

McQueen had transformed a conventional showcase of garments into a theatrical performance where the audience was able to watch the model act in the wearable art. Nevertheless, the purpose of these theatrical shows was still mainly for the marketing ploy where the more attention they attracts, the better publicity for the brands. I think this is the fine line that separates fashion from art but in terms of performance art, fashion is very much one already.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61NzBYJ5Dro (Accessed 13 Nov 2015)

It was clear that Victor and Rolf were inspired by fine art paintings for this FW15 couture collection. They have transformed canvas with frame into a wearable garment. Along with the models, the designers were standing at the runway themselves to deconstruct the canvas pieces from some of the models to hang the frames up on the wall. Victor and Rolf have challenged the idea whether what fashion is art or not by basically tied a painting on a model, then take it off and reorganized it as a painting on the wall. It's questionable whether the the pieces of the collection are art or not because they could be hung on the wall like a normal painting while it can also be worn on a body. Personally, I can't say if fashion is art or not in the show, but I definitely think it is a performance art in which the designers along with the models are the performers who performs the whole deconstructing and reconstructing art pieces on the wall. 

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http://shinebythree.com/2015/10/sarah-ellen-margaret-zhang/ (Accessed 13 Nov 2015)

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/may/13/tate-modern-rothko-black-on-maroon-restored (Accessed 13 Nov 2015)

Fashion cannot exist without a body. When it's on a hanger, it's just another piece of fabric. In general, clothing looks better on a body or at least on a representational of a body like mannequin. Fashion image and fashion show allow fashion to be shown in motion and how the garment moves according to the body movement along with carefully chosen music to create the overall mood of a specific collection. In the image above taken by Margaret Zhang, the model is walking down the stairs. She captures the moment where the hem of the dress is floating in the air from the motion of the model going against the wind. The dress looks very light and elegance. It's revealing but is conservative at the same time. If a different model is to wear to the same dress with the same pose, the photo would look different because of the different identity of the body. The right body needs to be chosen to convey the right message to the audience. 

On the other hand, art doesn't need a body. It may need a gallery for display but nothing needs to be present besides the art itself. It could be left alone with the audience to look, observe, and interpret in his or her own way while there's no need for music and other elements to help them understand the piece. For instance, in Mark Rothko gallery at Tate Modern, the viewer is overwhelmed by the work by just looking at it alone. It's just the art and viewer to create the experience, whereas, fashion requires a body to feel, to move, and to project. 

 

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Photographed by me at Louis Vuitton Series 3 Exhibition on 12 Nov 2015 

In 1983, Yves Saint Laurent was having his own exhibition, and it caused many controversies because he was a fashion designer and was living at the time. Whether the purpose of the exhibition was to showcase the art aspect of the collections or to make a statement about himself as an artist, the exhibition was closely linked to economic interest because it was one of the way for advertisement (Steele, 2012). 

In contrast to nowadays, fashion brands seek out for their own exhibition to attract ranges of audience with free entrance fee. They want to tell the public of who they are based on how they present themselves as prestige fashion houses and to be able to control how they project their identities. I went to Louis Vuitton series 3 exhibition earlier this term. There wasn't much showcase on the clothing itself, but rather they were focusing on the experience of the space for the audience to understand the inspiration of the collection, and there was also a section where the LV bag maker was making the mini clutch for the viewer to see. Personally, I didn't like the design of that clutch, but once I saw how it was made by hand, and how much craftsmanship needed to be put in. I felt the value and somehow wanted to own the bag myself. I think it's because of the presentation that the brand is associating itself with the art world by having there own presentation of their own 'art pieces' so that the audience would consider the brand as a higher hierarchy commodity. 

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Photographed by me at Dover Street Market on 3 Nov 2015

 When I visited Dover Street Market, I felt like I was walking in a gallery that also sells clothes within the exhibition. There were installations distributed on every floor of the Market. The globe in the photo here, was actually quite random to be put in a section that sells men's street wear. Also, the mannequins of children wearing knitted sweater didn't make sense to me at all. My experience inside was that I find the connection between the space and the clothing itself was quite awkward. The juxtaposition made me wonder why the installation were where they were. The shop makes money from selling clothes, so what was the point of having these pieces in display when they take a lot of spaces and don't do anything to the clothes at all. 

This is an intervene of fine art in a commercial space. Come Des Garcon challenges the traditional convention of fashion as commodities and the idea of associating fashion to art, which is considered as a higher hierarchy in the world of design. This particular association automatically puts Dover Street Market and the brand Comme Des Garcon itself into more than just a high-end fashion retailer because they've patronizing fine art, therefore, they are also a part of high-art community. Their clothes are not just commodities but are pieces of art.

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http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/gallery/19138/9/yves-saint-laurent-style-is-eternal (Accessed 8 Nov 2015)

Often, designers are inspired by art. They apply artwork into fashion, and therefore, the artwork is worn on a body. For instance, the Mondrian dress by Yves Saint Laurent in the first image features Mondrian's painting of geometric patterns and the use of primary colours. What's special about this is that Saint Laurent had turned the dress into a canvas through his A-line dress design. Another example was also from Saint Laurent, but he was inspired by Van Gogh's painting that he also printed the painting on fabric and made it into a short evening ensemble. In the Dazed website, the description of the image is that the piece was designed 'in tribute to Van Gogh'. I feel like what Saint Laurent has done is basically taking an already existing art and just changing the context of it and call it fashion. So, by looking at it like this, fashion isn't art because it's not the actual painting itself that being printed on the garment. Also, these dresses could be reproduced as long as people still want to wear them. Whereas, there's only one Irises by Van Gogh. 

However, to look at this matter in another perspective, art can be fashion, why can't fashion be art? Art could be printed on fabric, but why can't a well-designed piece of garment be art? There's such a blurred line between fashion and art depending on how people look at it, but personally, I don't think it is art, at least with the Saint Laurent examples.

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http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/duchamp-fountain-t07573 (Accessed 13  Nov 2015)

In Marcel Duchamp's fountain (1917), he "purchased a urinal from a sanitary ware supplier and submitted it – or arranged for it to be submitted (tate website)." Duchamp was known to be associated with Dadaism, an art movement emphasizing absurd and illogical ideas in which his background translates well in fountain. The art piece is literally a urinal being signed by him and because Duchamp was an artist, therefore, an object he signed was claimed to be an art piece. It seems nonsense to call what Duchamp did was artistic at all, but he claimed that by selecting a specific object, the process of selecting the urinal and not a bathtub, etc was how he made art. 

If a urinal can be art then why can't fashion? Fashion involved so many creative thinking and craftsmanship during the process, but somehow it's considered art to a certain extent, only because it has to be worn on a human body and cannot be displayed without a representational medium of a body? 

On the other hand, what makes fashion not art is its nature of reproduction. A piece of garment can be reproduced over and over again in the factory, while every signature by Duchamp would be different if he were to sign on every single urinal in the store. But then again, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koon have been inspired by mass production and they are still considered as artist, so why can't fashion? 

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Fashion and Art Creative Outcome

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Personally, I think that fashion is not art, but sometimes it can be considered as performance art as of the examples shown above. However, fashion is not art because:

I spent literally less than five minutes painting the piece on the left hand side by just using acrylic paint brushing back and forth on an A4 paper. I scanned it to my laptop. Then I cut out the painting into a dress for collage on the right hand side shown above and scanned the piece to put them beside each other as an outcome.

Left hand side:

Once I edited the painting I did by putting it on a nice luxurious canvas, it looks like a proper art piece that could be hung in a gallery for sale. My signature would act as the signature of the artist. I would consider this painting an art whether I spent five minutes or five years on it, it still functions as an art piece.

Right hand side: 

The same painting is transformed into a pattern on a dress. It's the exactly same paper I used to paint earlier but is put in another context. I associated the art piece with fashion through cut and paste processes. I would not consider the dress an art piece because not only that it's not being hung in a gallery but also because it can be reproduced. 

It's surprising how my perception could change so much beached upon the context the painting is being displayed. Both sides have the same pattern but the stereotypes of what art is and what fashion is still influenced me to perceive these image the way I do. 

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Comments

Micheal Martin
24 May 2017, 7:29 PM
Fashion photography came into reality when the idea of capturing lovely models wearing those beautiful dresses with a specific end goal to offer the dresses came into play. From that point forward, this type of photography has made some amazing progress but such students are not taking the fashion designing field because of their parent's engineering wish so they are taking help from Coursework Writing Help http://www.courseworkbliss.co.uk/ but I must student they should in which they get talent and interest.
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