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From the Canvas to the Runway - Fashion’s Place in the Contemporary Art World

Princess (2017), collaboration w/ Tome. Courtesy of Tschabalala Self; Courtesy of Tome

From history being captured, to eras being defined, modern day artistic ability reflects a time machine built within our linens. The expansion of expressionism and the art we observe today can be seen on the figures walking by in moving galleries. It inspires, it is inspired and it gives many visual artists and designers the opportunity to become their own canvas and to transform into the Picassos of needle and thread; this is Fashion.

When discussions of different artistic styles and what art is arise, many often think of that which stays still; the unique brush strokes hidden in the paint, the technical shading that came from the led, and even the hand-manipulated structures made from clay or stone. Once a piece of creative work is given movement, it grows beyond the 2D definitions we have grown accustomed to. It expands the meaning of art and what it means to be an artist, and in turn affects how one’s unique interpretations and perspectives of life can be consumed.

Art simply is; there is no guide on how it can be done, but one thing is sure: the world of fashion is ever-evolving and continuous in its lead for contemporary translations.

When looking through the past decades and even centuries’ worth of creative content, the most consistent form of expressionism and cultural timestamping has been seen in fashion.

Down to social and economicclasses, one’s wardrobegives insight into who they are and how they reflect themselves to be. Even in today's society, clothing has a strong grip on how we can be perceived. It is out of our control just as much as it is in; it must be obtained by all, but for some, it is a luxury. For some, it is the cultural acknowledgment and head nod to a rich history. For others, it’s the monetary signifier of mass gain and loss. But most of all, it is the visual and often abstract interpretation of oneself. The draping of garments over one’s body in an ensemble is often the first part of many people’sday. What am I gonna wear? and How do I look? are common thoughts and questions that have crossed everyone’s minds.Fashion is a thoughtful art; what’s old can be reinvented and thrifted anew and what’s new can give birth to what will be futuristic.

What many can agree on is that art is up for interpretation. That aspect alone has thrived within the welcoming arms of the fashion world. Every demographic, country, city and underground community has taken styles and turned them into a symbol to represent where they come from. All participants create viewings to shine light and pay homage to such artistry,and we see this take form in runway shows, magazine covers, wardrobe departments of your favorite shows, the Wearable Art Gala (Tina Knowles- Lawson, WACO), and most notoriously the Met Gala (Anna Wintour, Vogue).

Met Gala (2023), Metropolitan Museum of Art, Courtesy of Getty Images; Courtesy of Vogue

Whether fashion is high-end or street, it is an art meant to be seen. You simply can’t exclude fashion from historical displays; wherever you see the pop artwork of Andy Warhol, you’ll find the elegant drapesof a Halston ondisplay right down the hall. It is fair to say that we have thrived off of the many interpretations of art. It’s a never ending and diverse medium that people consume daily to the point that it’s a part of our nature to be expressive at all times or to be a witness to the new and innovative creations that give life an ever evolving texture. Fashion is a part of the texture of our everyday lives, and in many ways, it is the reason we categorize pieces as contemporary: because it gives a definition and purpose to what is now.

New York Fashion Week, Thom Browne (2023) Courtesy of Getty; Courtesy of Arturo Holmes



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