Spring fashion, framed
Designers need inspiration to create their collections, but if the results doesn’t inspire the viewer, we can’t properly call it fashion.
Words by Raquel Fernández Sobrín
“I’m a failed painter”, assessed Yves Saint Laurent in 1992. The creator of the Mondrian dress (1965) and the Pop Art collection (1966) positioned himself with those who answer “No” when asked if fashion is art. The infamous question has haunted the creative minds of the industry since it began to function as such in the late nineteenth century, and the main reason for denial is its functional, temporary and corporal dimension (the dress is made to be worn for a certain amount of time with the premise that it must adapt to the human body). Even those who defy these principles with their collections, like Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons, refuse to consider fashion as art. For those of us who are mere observers, forming a definitive opinion is not so easy.
Since his arrival at Loewe in 2013, Jonathan Anderson has championed craftsmanship to the hilt and exploited – creatively – his obsession with antiques. Whether it comes to ceramics or tapestries, the Irishman is always able to find the keys to modern clothes in the past. His latest collection for the brand, presented to the press in a box that was actually a complete kit to enter the world of handicrafts, would put on a good show in a painting by Velázquez. This is not the only proposal for the coming spring able to transport us to the Prado Museum. The elongated sleeves in Max Mara‘s looks, the decision to leave the shoulder area uncovered, the use of patchwork and the color palette reflect Ian Griffiths’ love for the Renaissance art. Classics and great masters might be a recurring source of inspiration, but designers often prefer to be painters of their time. Who would have thought that Elsa Schiaparelli’s prolific collaboration with Dalí would still be the creative lifeblood of her firm more than 80 years later?
Classics and great masters might be a recurring source of inspiration for fashion creatives, but designers often prefer to be painters of their time
Fashion, as well as art, is subject to the perception of the viewer and can sometimes play the part of catalyst for artistic memory in the manner of Proust’s cupcake. Only Acne Studio’s Jonny Johansson knows if he has seen any of Sorolla’s paintings inspired by the fishermen of Jávea, but dressed in nets, washed cottons and iridescent silks, his models may well have just emerged from the Mediterranean among white boats and wicker baskets. Something similar happens with those of Dries Van Noten: dressed in those colors, don’t they look like part of Abraham Lacalle’s work? Wes Gordon’s designs for Carolina Herrera New York aren’t just the last interpretation of 60s attire, they are also a beautiful tribute to Joan Miró. These ribbons are those birds and the polka dots, the stars traced by the Catalan painter.
Fashion can sometimes play the part of a catalyst for artistic memory in the manner of Proust’s cupcake
The uniform that Lucie and Luke Meier have outlined for Jil Sander’s spring could be worn by Maria Blanchard’s “La Pianista” (1919), Molly Goddard’s women could live in Lee Krasner’s work and Raf Simons‘ teenagers dance in that of the misunderstood Hilma af Klint. Doesn’t Chopova Lowena’s modern tradition fit perfectly into the framework of Vladimir Dimitrov’s female portraits?
Demna Gvasalia preferred to beat the sunrise to take the Balenciaga troupe out into the streets of Paris in an unintentional homage to Picasso’s avant-garde nights, which began with dinner at Gertrude Stein’s house and ended with toasts at the top of Montmartre. Speaking of avant-garde: we can rest assured about the future of fashion if for young designers’ creativity flows like the meanders of the artist Luis Gordillo, represented with ropes, asymmetrical cuts and seams on Ottolinger’s clothes. Inspiration is essential to create fashion, but fashion isn’t so iif it fails to inspire those who look at it.
- Jil Sander / “La Pianista” (1919), María Blanchard.
- Ottolinger / “Situación Meándrica 3” (1986), Luis Gordillo
- Molly Goddard / “Palingenesis” (1971), Lee Kasner
- Acne Studios / “Rocas de Jávea y el bote blanco” (1905), Joaquín Sorolla
- Chopova Lowena / “Untitled” (circa 1920), Vladimir Dimitrov
- Raf Simons / “Altar painting Nº1” (1907) Hilma Af Klint