Fashion is Not Art

Fashion hangs onto art’s coattails, by association trying to sneak into the fine arts balls. But this is not a fairy tale, and fashion’s foot does not fit this slipper.

Last night I read 2 magazines, both mentioned the trend toward art prints in fashion, where designers have produced a skirt that reminds one of Rothko or Pop art. Fashion creating pieces directly inspired by art is just a most blantant example of how they try to borrow some of art’s status. They use artists to create ad campaigns, their photographers often photograph art as well as fashion. But there is a line between the two. One magazine devoted pages to Richard Avedon, who has an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition, however, singles out his portraits, rather than his fashion photographry. I enjoy his work, but that doesn’t make the clothes that he photographed art.

Much like the art world, the fashion world seems creative, navel-gazing, fun and self-aggrandizing. Yet despite the fact that designers use art as their inspiration for clothing and that people who photograph clothes may or may not be artists in their own right, and despite the cultural significance clothes might have, fashion is not art.

Why fashion is not art:

It is utilitarian.
It is common.
It is commercial.
It is not beautiful.

It may be a beautiful skirt, with skirt as the qualifying noun that allows the adjective beautiful to be applied, but it is not beautiful. And while art may influence fashion, when does fashion influence art?

3 thoughts on “Fashion is Not Art

  1. Although I definitely agree with you about the entire post, the last line got to me. I think that the early days of Haute Coulture was ART…if you ever saw the ball gowns of Dior, St. Laurent and Valentino coming down a runway you would say that they were…”works of art”. BTW, there is a movie opening tomorrow about Valentino that you might be interested in checking out.

    As a matter of fact I really haven’t seen much “fashion” either in the past 20 years…it’s A LOST ART!

  2. As we know, Fashion has been trying to have sex with Art for the past 2 years…and it looks more like rape to me when I see what is passing for Fashion now.

  3. ArtChick1: I think it would depend on if the dress functioned primarily as a dress or as an art object.

    Anonymous: Thank you, you made me smile.

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