Fashion is Art. Art is Fashion. When Did It Start?

Alexander McQueen for Vogue


“What we have in common is that fashion is about creating emotion, which is what art is trying to do too. It’s such a demanding job to be an artist. To create and then to have to put your ideas out there and see if they are welcomed or rejected is just like in fashion too. Lee went to the first Frieze, and never missed another, and bought many things there. Plus this place also has a certain historic meaning for the house,” added Sarah Burton after the supper in Christ Church in London’s Spitalfields, where McQueen staged his 1996 Dante collection.”

However, any discussion about the meeting of art and fashion can only be meaningful if one hazards a definition of what is art. In my view it is the communication by artifice of an essential truth whether visual, verbal, musical or literary. By truth I mean anything that reveals to us something we sensed but maybe did not comprehend before, or a creation that by virtue of its beauty reveals a new way of looking at the world anew aesthetically. The great Christian philosopher Thomas Aquinas and James Joyce, the writer all we Irish revere and the author of possibly the greatest novel in the English language, both believed that art is the human use of sensible or intelligent matter for an aesthetic end. And that the “improper” use of art is when art tries to teach or makes you do something you would not normally do. From this point of view any art that arouses emotion to persuade you to buy something or support a political cause is improper. It suggests advertising is ultimately pornographic. Of course, a Pop Artist like Andy Warhol would obviously regard this as nonsense since in his universe any visual commentary or critique of popular culture is art too.

Read more here at AchTung Mode.

It always has been art for me, it conveys emotions, it specificies a cultural significance or popular culture for that period of time. And in the word of Anna Wintour, a cover of a fashion magazine can “tell the mood of a country”. Dress making requires technical details as rigorous as sculpting or painting. 

Perhaps the hesitance of designers from Miuccia Prada to Sarah Burton to be labelled artists is because there is a huge burden to be associated with art that is usually anti-capitalism and anti-authority. In the core sense of thing, fashion has disappointingly morphed into multi-million dollar business with less emphasise on creativity or art but more about shifting that revenue needle up.