Art + Commerce

March 12, 2012 | By | Comments (4)

Can fashion be considered art?

That simple question is an age-old debate. Certainly fashion and style can be a vehicle for personal expression, a form of nonverbal communication to convey details about your personality to the world, and by which others are able to interpret certain details about you (whether fairly and correctly or not). There have been countless museum exhibits centered on a specific designer or era  (“Savage Beauty,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s retropective of the late Alexander McQueen’s work, being a recent and arguably the most famous example), but perhaps these are more successful from an anthropological point of view than as art exhibits. And fashion shows themselves at their very best can feel like amazing performance art, but it’s important to keep in mind that, ultimately, the goal is to sell clothing.

This has always been a gray area to me—both sides of the argument seem equally compelling. And just to make it slightly more confusing, this spring designers from all over the world are turning artwork into a trend, borrowing inspiration from paintings, sculpture, and artists themselves. Recreating Monet’s “Water Lilies” on a skirt doesn’t automatically make that skirt a piece of art, of course, but it sure does make it pretty.

Frida Kahlo at Moschino, Milan

Monet’s “Water Lilies” at Sportmax, Milan

Van Gogh’s sunflowers at Rodarte, New York