Art & Creative Design

Fashion vs. Fashion Art: A 21st Century Homage to Yves St. Laurent’s ‘The Mondrian Collection'

Fashion styles suffer from incessant recurrence which assists in quelling an invigorated creativity in the industry over time but more importantly helps to instill a generally removed public appreciation for fashion as a creative medium.  Style changes now appear for the most part to be relegated to such banal items as the hemlines of dresses moving up-and-down and lapels and ties changing their width back-and-forth over a span of seasons demoting us to state, “I’ll just keep my ties until they come back in style.”  Adding to the blunting of fashion styles was the ready-to-wear chic in the mid-1960’s becoming dominant.  Style became less distinctive and more unified under a singular umbrella of unisex fashion.  This was exemplified by master couturier Balenciaga who retired in 1968 concluding that the market for individual fashion as reflected in couture was now gone.  What then allows fashion to remain fresh regardless of the consistent reintegration of the same styles into our wardrobes? 

We must first separate style from design for it is when they are brought together they become fashion and if done with creative invention the confluence of the two becomes ‘fashion art’. The creativity of fashion is art and "fashion is more art than art is," noted Andy Warhol.

So how does fashion remain new when the styles themselves beg  for originality?  Art.  Take for example Yves St. Laurent’s ‘The Mondrian Collection’ in 1965 in where he had the acknowledged cocktail dress designed in the theme of Piet Mondrian’s art work.  His version of the cocktail dress did not simply have art employed on it like today’s ubiquitous style of throwing art on the front of any t-shirt.  YSL’s artwork was designed to work within the attire itself.  The art complemented the spirit of the dress and it was not a garish intrusion on its panache.  It is akin to designing a building for a specific piece of land.  You first look at the constraints of your area and then design a building that will best support your intention on that parcel of property.  In fashion, the art is first examined and detailed to its components to determine how it can be best used to complement the style of the clothing and ultimately to the theme that is being sought for the collection. 

Art is not merely an extraneous image splashed on the style of apparel.  When I design on unassuming clothing such as a t-shirt I also look at how the selected image best complements the contour of a woman’s body or a man’s frame.  The type of image and its placement is the design that will work on a particular style.  The convergence of the two as stated creates ‘fashion art’. Art not only enhances but ensures that a particular style like a cocktail dress as masterfully executed by Yves St. Laurent back in 1965 with his ‘The Mondrian Collection’ stays fresh. 

Granted those who do not suffer the pack animal syndrome will revel in going against imposed style trends at any given moment in time and thus port a tie ¼” in width in juxtaposition to the stated acceptable size of the time.  Yes to that for individuality in fashion is discovering your own style.  It is the one element that will ensure you are never dated if that orientation is genuinely part of your constitution. In other words, as long as you wear it with confidence your fashion will be an individual choice no one can argue against because in the end you like it and you are making the statement you yourself want to make.


Your thoughts?

Stefan Lialias,

Partner & Creative Director