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15 July 2013

On fashion and art

Atelier Versace, Armani Prive, Valentino (all Couture Fall 2013)

I love fashion because I can wear it, and I can wear it in a way that I can’t do with art. I mean that literally, one can just about toddle around in McQueen’s Armadillo heels but I highly doubt you’d find anyone in London storming with streets with ‘The Mona Lisa’ covering their modesty. This wearability is what validates fashion, not the rushed explanation that ‘oh fashion is art’ when challenged by the practical obsessed world we live in today. I might even push it to say that fashion exceeds art in the sense it not only fulfils an aesthetic duty, but also leads to functionality too. I think we can all agree that while it might be frivolous to spend $300 on Chanel espadrilles; it’s aesthetically pleasing and it’s hard to deny that wearing shoes is quite necessary. If you have the money to be frivolous then please, do.

In fact, if fashion is art then so is architecture and furniture design. Heck, any creative process suddenly becomes ‘art’ and loses it’s own individual merits. By attempting to validate your sartorial inclinations and sub-categorizing it as art, you demean it. A multi-billion dollar industry not worthy of it’s own title? State that about any other industry and you’d be met with a multitude of people disagreeing before they even knew what you were talking about.  I feel like fashion comes under criticism because of it’s materialism, but when you cut down to the basics, most of what we do and the industries we’re surrounded by are materialistic in a sense. Fashion has the ability to change the way we see ourselves, change how others see us, convey a personality and originality that nothing else can. What we wear sets us apart from others, how we wear it and why we wear it. There are questions one can ask about the clothes we wear that are irrelevant when it comes to art, the gap between the two becomes greater the more into it you go. The initial concept of inspiration is the same, and perhaps a fashion designer might take inspiration from an artist, but after that they diverge into two separate concepts.

Couture season has been upon us, and this always raises the high fashion and art debate. Perhaps the line between fashion and art thins when you hit couture, the wearable items that lose their functionality in the elaborate nature of their design. Those, I’m more inclined to state as art, but oddly enough I’m also less impressed by. Jeans, a shift dress, sleek heels- those are the true heroes, the items that continue to re-invent themselves but retain their everyday usefulness. The creativity that goes into changing our conception about something so well established is what I find truly admirable. There is a shift dress, a heel, and denim for every occasion; there are few occasions for a McQueen couture dress.  Arguably when something loses it's wearability, it stops being fashion and starts to be bodies clad in sculpture. Even now though, couture seems to have become more demure to satisfy a need to wear clothes that are in fact wearable (what an odd concept!). The couture above from the most recent show didn't scream 'wholly impractical and most likely impossible to walk in, best of luck'. Perhaps wearability is an art in the sense that it’s a skill, a unique factor of fashion, but without the idle aesthetics.

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  1. Wonderfully written and some really good points made, thoroughly enjoyed reading this! :-)

    1. Really nice post!

      Don't miss today my Comfy & Chic look....with amazing Coco&Raffia wedges and bag!!!.

      Kisses from - My Bloglovin

  2. i love the content of your posts !!! pictures, text everything - its realy entertaining !!! love it :) keeeeep doing this amazing job babe

  3. I loved reading this you pretty much echoed my ideas on Fashion/Couture and Art x
    NRC ♥

  4. Reading this gave me such an odd throwback to my University days where we spent hours likening fashion to art. And buildings. Beautifully written, Camilla, loved it. x

  5. Valentino collection was stunning

  6. Love the points you've made in the post and totally agree with where you're coming from. The Valentino collection did also make me drool.... in the most delicately ladylike sense possible.

  7. I agree with a lot you said, but I think art as a whole is an incredibly broad term and can represent any kind of human expression interpreted into something visual, even if that include some 14 year old girl doodling an eye into her notebook during class. I think it's when you bring in terms like fine art and design that you can start to classify things in a way thats more appropriate. At my school, fashion is considered a design major, not a fine art major, and I think the majority of fashion you see is really more design than anything. But being design doesn't mean it can't be beautiful, and in fact good design usually is and that's the amazing thing about it: you can take something that people need and use and want, and you can take it from its pure utilitarian state and make it into something beautiful. I believe that is when design transcends into art as well. I also believe that having something that should be practical but is being used impractically doesnt necessarily make it "art" (although it could in a post-modern irony sort of way), and being purely practical doesnt necessarily make something "design."

    I kind of lost where I was going with this, but I suppose I just believe every line, article of clothing, accessory, what have you, is subjective, since art as a whole is incredibly subjective. There is a lot of fashion out there that I would consider art, and a lot that I would consider design, but both are on equal levels in my book, they just achieve something different.

    Anyway thats just my two cents, thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    1. I really agree with what you said about subjectivity, I do think each piece and each collection holds a different value in terms of whether it is art or design, and there is a disparity between the two but there also are cases where they definitely marry. I agree in the sense that both are equally valid, but I do feel like by subcategorising fashion into art you demean it by not specifying how the two link up and by just assuming they are the same creative process, thanks for your thought provoking comment! x

    2. I agree that what we classify as art is incredibly subjective, so it can be difficult to draw the line between fashion and art sometimes.

      However like you said Camilla, couture (the impractically outrageous kind) seems to lean towards the 'art' side a lot more than our everyday clothes.

      Perhaps that's because both couture and art have a different function to normal clothing, which is mostly there to cover ourselves with, to keep warm, and to some extent extend our personality via our style.

      Couture and art though are more aesthetically orientated, not really there to serve any purpose at all.

      I think Oscar Wilde puts it aptly when he says that all art is quite pointless. But fashion isn't. And I think that's the main distinction between the two.

      (another great article by the way!) :)

      A Chic Lifestyle

  8. You're a beautiful writer and it's a pleasure to read your words as you write so eloquently and conscisely with chimes of poetry. Fascinating.

  9. I agree with Alison. I feel that when fashion is curated it becomes an art form, whether this be on the catwalk or in a glass case in the V & A. When RTW is curated and photographed in a magazine it becomes art through the essence of photography and becomes far more expressive. On the other hand, when RTW is worn on the streets it becomes a figment of trend rather than Art. I believe Fashion is an art form, but does differ to fine art purely for its design process - just think of designers like Schiaparelli. I think part of the bauty of fashion that puts it in its own leage is this debate.

    Such a good read, don't normally ever comment on posts- partly because I end up sounding pretentious as evidenced above!

  10. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I'm following yours now, stay in touch xx

  11. Your an amazing writer. Thank you for the comment on my blog xx

  12. Really interesting point of view, I agree with most of them.



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