Arts Influence on Fashion : Art Appreciation
Fashion Article Posted July 17, 2008 

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As a fashion editor, I have been watching the evolution of the fashion industry for several years now.  In an effort to spark consumer demand for the next "must-have" item, trend forecasters and fashion sources such as Apparel Search are constantly predicting tomorrow's trends. As the seasons change and new styles emerge, there's always a new color, shape, style, or accessory that dominates window displays and editorial pages at the top fashion magazines.

As an industry insider, it is rare that I see something truly "new" and innovative. Although fine art has certainly been an influence on fashions of the past, it seems like now, more than ever, there's been an emphasis on this fusion of fashion and art.

In an effort to mark the 50th year of the Chanel handbag, the revered fashion house recently created a touring art exhibit, Mobile Art-chanel Contemporary Art Container. A futuristic pavilion created by the architect Zaha Hadid, shows works that were inspired by the elements that give the emblematic quilted bag from Chanel its identity. For the exhibit, 20 artists show their unique interpretations of the Chanel bag as a cultural totem. The artists include Yoko Ono, Stephen Shore, Pierre & Gilles, and Nobuyoshi Araki, among others.

The diverse and eye-catching assortment of handbags includes a gold quilted guitar-shaped bag emblazoned with a Chanel logo, a handbag made of wire, and a bold red, white, and blue bag that proudly and prominently displays the British flag.

Chanel's world tour kicked off in the spring in Hong Kong, and then moved on to Tokyo. After its New York show this fall, the exhibit will travel to London, Moscow, and Paris.

Fine artists such as Takashi Murakami are also collaborating with fashion houses for fine art inspired apparel and accessories. The Japanese artist is known for his artwork that consciously bridges fine art, design, animation, fashion, and popular culture.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art recently wrapped up its Murakami exhibit, which featured the artist's colorful cartoon-like expressions. The exhibit explored the self-reflexive nature of Murakami's oeuvre by focusing on his earlier works that were produced between 1992 and 2000. Through these works, Murakami attempted to explore his own reality through an investigation of branding and identity. Speaking of branding, Murakami partnered with luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton for a unique collection of art-inspired handbags, which were on sale at the museum.

The fine art influence is not limited to higher-priced designer names such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. Gap recently launched Artist Editions T-shirts, a limited edition collection of t-shirts designed by some of today's most influential contemporary artists. The visionaries included Jeff Koons, Chuck Close, Kiki Smith, and Kenny Scharf, among other celebrated artists. Gap worked in close partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art and Art Production Fund to create the collection with the artists, who are all previous Whitney Biennial participants.

This fashion and art vibe also extends into advertising campaigns. Flip through the pages of any top fashion magazine, and you'll find even more evidence of the fusion of fine art and fashion. Prada's current ad campaign portrays a lineup of models that artfully pose as they flaunt the latest collection in an art gallery-like setting. Colorful sketches serve as a backdrop for the women's line, which presents a rather vibrant, art-inspired range of apparel and accessories. Watercolor-like prints dominate some of the pieces, bringing a truly artistic aesthetic. Some of the handbags are also embellished with predominantly black and white sketches that look like they were taken from the pages of an artist's pad. The predominantly dark-hued men's collection is also photographed in front of a series of black and white paintings.

Written for Apparel Search by Regina Cooper

Although art has always had an influence on fashion, more couture houses and fashion brands seem to be drawing creative inspiration from the world of fine art.

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