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10 artists who influenced high fashion

A journey into the everlasting marriage between fine art and couture

10 artists who influenced high fashion A journey into the everlasting marriage between fine art and couture
Dalí’s jewels
Andy Warhol - Souper Dress by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac
Andy Warhol, Flowers - Prada SS13
Andy Warhol, Flowers - Halston’s dress
Pop Wrap by Diane Von Furstenberg
Die Hoffnung II by Gustav Klimt - Givenchy Pre-Fall 2014
Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt - Alexander McQueen SS13
Ria Munk II by Gustav Klimt - Zuhair Murad Haute Couture FW16
Autorretrato con Collar de Espinas by Frida Kahlo - Moschino SS12
Andy Warhol, Coca Cola - Jeremy Scott SS11
La bouteille de Bass by Pablo Picasso - Oscar de la Renta Resort 2012
Tauromachia by Pablo Picasso - Balenciaga SS12
Dalí’s jewels
Balmain SS15
Hermès FW20
Prada FW11
De Stijl Dresses by YSL
Le Coq by Pablo Picasso - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Portrait de femme (Marie-Thérèse) by Pablo Picasso - Jacquemus FW15
Picasso’s ceramics - Jil Sander SS12
Frida Kahlo - Comme Des Garçons FW05
Frida Kahlo’s corset - Comme Des Garçons SS12
Frida Kahlo - Jean Paul Gaultier SS98
Camino en Giverney by Claude Monet - YSL Haute Couture SS88
The Anthropomorphic cabinet by Salvador Dalí - Schiaparelli’s Desk Suit
Alena Akhmadullina SS16
Red Fuji by Katsushika Hokusai - Yumi Katsura Haute Couture SS18
Yumi Katsura Haute Couture SS18
Salvador Dalì - Elsa Schiaparelli
Andy Warhol - Gianni Versace
Piet Mondrian - Yves Saint Laurent
Londres, le Parlement by Claude Monet - Akris SS09
Nympheas by Claude Monet - Sportmax SS12
Le bassin aux nymphéas by Claude Monet - Prada FW18
Frida Kahlo - Jean Paul Gaultier SS98
Frida Kahlo - Jean Paul Gaultier SS98
La Columna Rota by Frida Kahlo - Jean Paul Gaultier SS98
Dolce & Gabbana SS15
Valentino Resort 2015
Madame Monet and Her Son by Claude Monet - Christian Dior Haute Couture SS11
Le Jardin de l'artiste à Giverny by Claude Monet - Christian Dior Haute Couture SS49
Nympheas by Claude Monet - Chanel SS15
Rick Owens SS13
Le Roy Soleil by Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali
Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
De Stijl Dresses by YSL
De Stijl Dress by YSL
Monsieur Saint Laurent - De Stijl Dress by YSL
Piet Mondrian’s work - De Stijl Dress by YSL
Moschino SS20
Guitar on a table by Pablo Picasso - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Mandoline et guitare by Pablo Picasso - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture SS16
Iris by Vincent van Gogh - Maison Margiela Haute Couture FW15
Woman with a Head of Roses by Salvador Dali - Skeleton Dress by Elsa Schiaparelli
Three young surrealist women holding in their arms the skins of an orchestra by Dalì - Tears Dress by Elsa Schiaparelli
Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1937 Lobster Dress - Schiaparelli Haute Couture SS17
Salvador Dalí - Wallis Simpson in Elsa Schiaparelli by Cecil Beaton
Lobster Telephone
Shoe Hat by Elsa Schiaparelli
Rodarte SS12
Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh - Rodarte SS12
Seated woman in garden by Pablo Picasso - Moschino SS20
Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol - Versace SS91
Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhol - Souper Dress
Harlequin by Pablo Picasso - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Light of Iris by Georgia O'Keeffe - Elie Saab Haute Couture SS10
Hygieia by Gustav Klimt - Dior Haute Couture SS08
Der Kuss by Gustav Klimt - Dior Haute Couture SS08
Judith II by Gustav Klimt - Dior Haute Couture SS08
Emile Flöge - Valentino FW15
Dior Haute Couture SS08
Emile Flöge - Valentino FW15
Georgia O'Keeffe - Michael Kors SS16
Georgia O'Keeffe - Dior cruise 2018
Georgia O'Keeffe - Dior cruise 2018
Andy Warhol, Dennis Hopper - Calvin Klein SS18
Calvin Klein SS18
Warhol’s illustration - Dior FW13
Dior FW13
The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai - Christian Dior Haute Couture SS07
Givenchy Haute Couture SS98 - Proenza Schouler FW12
Versace SS18
Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue by Georgia O'Keeffe - Gareth Pugh SS15
Athena Pallas by Gustav Klimt - Rick Owens SS13

Is fashion art? Over the years, many have tried to answer this question, without reaching a definitive conclusion. There are those who have continued to undervalue fashion, calling it "a meaningless cog in the machine of mass production and consumerism", empty of any poetics, and those who, like director and photographer Alex Prager, reply by recalling that some of the greatest works of art have been made on commission. Others emphasize the true artistic side of fashion the ability to dress individuality, helping us to express what each of us would like to show to the world.

Salvador Dalì - Elsa Schiaparelli
Andy Warhol - Gianni Versace
Piet Mondrian - Yves Saint Laurent

The only certainty is that the two worlds have crossed paths many times, giving rise to legendary collaborations, such as that between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali, and fabulous clothes, so special as to equal the evocative power of the paintings that inspired them.

Here below there are 10 iconic artists who have influenced high fashion (and much more).

 

Salvador Dalí 

Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1937 Lobster Dress - Schiaparelli Haute Couture SS17
Salvador Dalí - Wallis Simpson in Elsa Schiaparelli by Cecil Beaton
Lobster Telephone
Three young surrealist women holding in their arms the skins of an orchestra by Dalì - Tears Dress by Elsa Schiaparelli
Woman with a Head of Roses by Salvador Dali - Skeleton Dress by Elsa Schiaparelli
The Anthropomorphic cabinet by Salvador Dalí - Schiaparelli’s Desk Suit
Shoe Hat by Elsa Schiaparelli
Dalí’s jewels
Dalí’s jewels
Le Roy Soleil by Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali

Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalì were two of the most influential artistic figures of the 20th century, so unique and important that they won not only a place on the cover of Time, but in the art history. They were bold, subversive, against the grain. He always said: "Drawing is the sincerity of art. There is no possibility of cheating. It's either beautiful or it's ugly." She replied with "Drawing clothes, it's not a job. It is an art. One of the most complex, difficult, daunting arts because a dress, when it is born, already belongs to the past."  Together, driven by "l'esprit surréaliste", they made legendary outfits: from Shoe bags to the suit with pocket-boxes inspired by the Anthropomorphic Stipo; from phone-bags to the Skeleton Dress (later also revisited by brands such as Alexander McQueen or Christian Lacroix) which, thanks to a special technique, modeled the matelassé fabric by reproducing the ribs and other bones of the ribcage; from garments decorated with Mae West's lips to perfume bottles. Their most iconic creation, however, was the Lobster dress of 1937. It was a long dress in light, flowing silk organza, decorated with an illustration of the crustacean that occupied most of the skirt. At the time of its presentation, it was not so much the animal, which was considered an aphrodisiac and for Dalì was an explicit sexual symbol, that caused a big scandal, but the model wearing it in a series of photographs taken by Cecil Beaton, Wallis Simpson. The woman, divorced and American at the time, was at the center of one of the biggest scandals in history because Edward VIII had decided to abdicate the English throne in order to marry her. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the dress, Bertrand Guyon presented a new version of the famous model in Schiaparelli's SS17 Haute Couture collection.

 

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian’s work - De Stijl Dress by YSL
Monsieur Saint Laurent - De Stijl Dress by YSL
De Stijl Dress by YSL
De Stijl Dresses by YSL
De Stijl Dresses by YSL
Prada FW11
Balmain SS15
Hermès FW20

Yves Saint Laurent loved art and during his lifetime, together with his partner Pierre Bergé, put together a prestigious art collection that included masterpieces by Henri Matisse and Van Gogh. However, the artist who most impressed him was Piet Mondrian, to the extent that he said:

Mondrian is purity. I don't think there is anything purer in the art world.

The Dutch painter's Neo-Plasticism and, in particular, his famous "colour-blocked" paintings, made of contrasting shades of black and white combined with red, blue and yellow, which he began to create towards the end of 1919, inspired the designer to create the 1965 autumn-winter Haute Couture collection, one of the most important and influential examples of the marriage between art and fashion. Amongst the many items on the catwalk, Mondrian's collection became famous for six cocktail dresses, known as De Stijl in honor of the movement founded by the artist. Each model, celebrated by the cover of Vogue Paris as "the dress of tomorrow", hid, behind the apparently minimalist look, meticulous workmanship that perfectly reproduced the color blocking pattern of Mondrian's works and integrated it with the avant-garde style of the youth movement of the Sixties. Extremely popular, this YSL creation has inspired many other designers over the years, such as Prada for the FW11 collection, Supreme for the SS16 lookbook, Balmain SS15 or Hermès FW20.

 

Pablo Picasso

Guitar on a table by Pablo Picasso - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Mandoline et guitare by Pablo Picasso - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Harlequin by Pablo Picasso - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Le Coq by Pablo Picasso - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Seated woman in garden by Pablo Picasso - Moschino SS20
Moschino SS20
Portrait de femme (Marie-Thérèse) by Pablo Picasso - Jacquemus FW15
Picasso’s ceramics - Jil Sander SS12
Tauromachia by Pablo Picasso - Balenciaga SS12
La bouteille de Bass by Pablo Picasso - Oscar de la Renta Resort 2012

For Moschino's SS20, Jeremy Scott paid homage to the art of Pablo Picasso, creating a series of garments inspired by his most famous works, transforming Bella Hadid (in harlequin version) and the tall models into real living canvases: from Les Demoiselles d'Avignon of 1907 to Le Marin of 1943, from Guitar of 1914 to Femme au beret et a la robe quadrillee of 1937. This is only the most recent example of how fashion has been influenced over the years by one of the fathers of Cubism. The first designer to bring the Spanish genius' work to the runway was Yves Saint Laurent. Yves showed his great passion for art in the Haute Couture SS88 collection, during which he presented clothes influenced by Picasso, but also by Braque, Matisse and Van Gogh. Reworked by YSL's flair, guitars, violins, roosters, doves, vibrant colors and geometric graphics are transformed into wearable sculptures made of fabric and glamour. The love for Picasso didn't stop in the eighties, but marked many fashion weeks: from SS12 by Jil Sander to FW16 Haute Couture by Schiaparelli, from FW15 by Jacquemus to SS16 Haute Couture by Viktor & Rolf.

 

Vincent van Gogh 

Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh - Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture SS88
Iris by Vincent van Gogh - Maison Margiela Haute Couture FW15
Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh - Rodarte SS12
Rodarte SS12
Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture SS16

Apparently, Vincent van Gogh, drawing an unconscious link between art and haute couture, what is commonly referred to as "the fashion of dreams," said: 

First I dream my paintings, then I paint my dreams.

The Dutch painter's most famous paintings, from The Starry Night of 1889 to Vase with Twelve Sunflowers of 1888, have often been transformed into prints or inspirations for wonderful clothes. Any examples? Yves Saint Laurent SS88 Haute Couture, Maison Margiela FW15 Haute Couture, Viktor & Rolf SS15 Haute Couture or Rodarte SS12, during which sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy brought to the runway an enchanting and ethereal tribute to van Gogh's works.

 

Georgia O'Keeffe 

Georgia O'Keeffe - Dior cruise 2018
Georgia O'Keeffe - Dior cruise 2018
Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue by Georgia O'Keeffe - Gareth Pugh SS15
Georgia O'Keeffe - Michael Kors SS16
Light of Iris by Georgia O'Keeffe - Elie Saab Haute Couture SS10

The Mother of American Modernism is a fashion icon. Her almost monastic style, which mixes black and white with the Southwestern aesthetic of the States, is still highly copied today. Just take a look at the collections brought to the runway in recent years: from Tome FW13 to Maria Grazia Chiuri's creations for the 2018 Christian Dior cruise. Not only the bolo ties, gaucho hats, white shirts and long skirts have turned into fashion, but also Georgia O'Keeffe's beautiful flowers, which bloom in an almost erotic way on the canvas, have become prints for the floating dresses of Michael Kors, Elie Saab and Gareth Pugh

 

Andy Warhol 

Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhol - Souper Dress
Andy Warhol, Flowers - Halston’s dress
Andy Warhol - Souper Dress by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac
Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol - Versace SS91
Versace SS18
Warhol’s illustration - Dior FW13
Dior FW13
Andy Warhol, Coca Cola - Jeremy Scott SS11
Andy Warhol, Flowers - Prada SS13
Pop Wrap by Diane Von Furstenberg
Andy Warhol, Dennis Hopper - Calvin Klein SS18
Calvin Klein SS18

In 1962 Andy Warhol was one of the first pop artists to turn his work into fashion when he began printing his designs on clothes that were not sold in stores, but were created as one-off pieces for the women of New York society who wore them to gallery openings. In 1965, when those dresses were already a little fashion cult, he created the Souper Dress (reproposed in another version also by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac in 1984), inspired by his 1962 installation Campbell's Soup Cans, which, in a short time, sold like hot cakes and confirmed the power of the union between art and fashion. Since then, there have been many designers who have celebrated Warhol's Pop Art: from Halston, who collaborated for a long time with the Factory artist and reworked his Flowers in an evening dress version, to Gianni Versace, who in 1991 made super tops like Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista wear his iconic printed and tight-fitting dress decorated with the faces of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. The Marilyn Dress returned to the Versace runway for the SS18 collection; while other pieces from Andy Warhol's vast archive-inspired the Pop Wrap series by designer Diane Von Furstenberg, Stephen Sprouse SS88, Jeremy Scott SS11 and Prada SS13. Raf Simons has also drawn on the Warholian aesthetic several times, first from Christian Dior for the FW13 collection and then from Calvin Klein thanks to a contract with the Andy Warhol Foundation.  

 

Gustav Klimt

Der Kuss by Gustav Klimt - Dior Haute Couture SS08
Hygieia by Gustav Klimt - Dior Haute Couture SS08
Judith II by Gustav Klimt - Dior Haute Couture SS08
Dior Haute Couture SS08
Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt - Alexander McQueen SS13
Die Hoffnung II by Gustav Klimt - Givenchy Pre-Fall 2014
Athena Pallas by Gustav Klimt - Rick Owens SS13
Rick Owens SS13
Ria Munk II by Gustav Klimt - Zuhair Murad Haute Couture FW16
Emile Flöge - Valentino FW15
Emile Flöge - Valentino FW15

For Dior's SS08 Haute Couture collection, John Galliano revisited the art of Gustav Klimt, bringing all the beauty and opulence of the Vienna Art Nouveau movement to the runway. The details painted by the symbolist painter have often come back to life thanks to the creativity of many other designers: from Alexander McQueen to Givenchy, from Zuhair Murad to Rick Owens. All of them have been inspired by iconic pieces such as Adele Bloch-Bauer I or The Kiss which, by mixing shapes, fabrics, prints, golds, small stones, geometric graphics have become equally rich and sensual dresses. But there are also those who, like Valentino for the FW15 collection, decided to make a different choice and, instead of starting from the work of Klimt, opted to share the same muse: Emilie Flöge.

 

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo - Jean Paul Gaultier SS98
Frida Kahlo - Jean Paul Gaultier SS98
Frida Kahlo - Jean Paul Gaultier SS98
La Columna Rota by Frida Kahlo - Jean Paul Gaultier SS98
Frida Kahlo’s corset - Comme Des Garçons SS12
Frida Kahlo - Comme Des Garçons FW05
Autorretrato con Collar de Espinas by Frida Kahlo - Moschino SS12
Valentino Resort 2015
Dolce & Gabbana SS15

Fashion historian and author E.P. Cutler, describing the artist's aesthetic, wrote:

Frida Kahlo wore her heritage, her home, the clothing made there, to reveal or conceal the hardships she endured and continued to endure throughout her life. In doing so, Kahlo created her identity. Through her art, especially her pieces of self-portraiture, Kahlo shared her identity – and her human struggles.

These words give just a small idea of how important the Mexican painter's impact on fashion was, not only through her artwork, but through her personal style. The unibrow, the braided chignon, the wreath of flowers in her hair, the colorful maxi skirts, the corset, the embroidered blouses, the traditional clothes of Mexico are all elements that, put together, have made her similar to a religious icon, very recognizable and influential, to which many designers have paid homage over the years. Jean Paul Gaultier has dedicated his entire SS98 collection to her, while among those who have referred to her are Comme Des Garçons, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Alberta Ferretti and Moschino.

 

Claude Monet

Madame Monet and Her Son by Claude Monet - Christian Dior Haute Couture SS11
Le Jardin de l'artiste à Giverny by Claude Monet - Christian Dior Haute Couture SS49
Camino en Giverney by Claude Monet - YSL Haute Couture SS88
Londres, le Parlement by Claude Monet - Akris SS09
Nympheas by Claude Monet - Sportmax SS12
Nympheas by Claude Monet - Chanel SS15
Le bassin aux nymphéas by Claude Monet - Prada FW18

Claude Monet is definitely one of the most popular French painters in history and his works, such as the famous series of Water Lilies that the impressionist genius captured during various times and seasons of the day, seem to have been created to be printed on beautiful clothes. From Dolce & Gabbana to Chanel, there are many designers who have noticed the evocative power of his canvases, with their intense colors and nature blooming vividly. The leader of the impressionist movement, his enchanting landscapes, iris meadows, water lilies and the elegant ladies he portrayed have made the creations of Sportmax, Christian Dior, YSL, Prada, Akris and many other brands special.

 

Katsushika Hokusai 

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai - Christian Dior Haute Couture SS07
Givenchy Haute Couture SS98 - Proenza Schouler FW12
Red Fuji by Katsushika Hokusai - Yumi Katsura Haute Couture SS18
Yumi Katsura Haute Couture SS18
Alena Akhmadullina SS16

The Great Wave of Kanagawa, Katsushika Hokusai's most famous work, which was apparently conceived between 1829 and 1833 continues to influence art and fashion centuries after its creation. Alexander McQueen drew inspiration from this example of majestic nature for Givenchy's Haute Couture, as did John Galliano for Christian Dior's Couture.