When Fashion meets Art

POSTED IN Art, Art history, Culture, Drawn art, Illustration

By Tobijulo Onifade

fashion |ˈfaʃ(ə)n|
1 a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour: the latest Parisian fashions.
• [ mass noun ] the production and marketing of new styles of clothing and cosmetics: [ as modifier]: a fashion magazine.

art 1 |ɑːt|
1 [ mass noun ] the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power: the art of the Renaissance | great art is concerned with moral imperfections | she studied art in Paris.
• works produced by human creative skill and imagination: his collection of modern art | [ as modifier]: an art critic.
• creative activity resulting in the production of paintings, drawings, or sculpture: she’s good at art.

Circa early 2010, during my foundation programme I came to know of Piet Mondrian, a Dutch abstract painter and one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. One of his famous works is Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow, which is a minimal painting that was done in 1930. In 1965, and almost 2 decades after his death, renowned fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent designed six cocktail dresses in homage to Mondrian’s Composition. The collection was a huge success that created a precedent for future collaborations between visual arts and fashion. Although this collaboration was groundbreaking, research actually reveals that the first time a visual artist and fashion designer collaborated was in 1937 when Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali and Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli teamed up to make a silk evening dress, known as the Lobster dress. This dress had a large lobster print (painted by Dali) that hung upside down from the waist down (there are rumours of a sexual undertone with regards to this dress). It was designed for Wallis Simpson who at that time was divorced from her second husband and engaged to Edward VIII (who had to abdicate the throne to marry her).

Piet Mondrian

Composition with Red Blue and Yellow

Image from Wikipedia.org

Robe Mondrian – 1965

Image from http://www.monsieurvintage.com/


Photo from vogue.com

Wallis Simpson in Vogue, 1937

Photo: Cecil Beaton / Getty Images

Since the Mondrian/Yves Saint Laurent coopetition there have been other collaborations between artists and fashion designers which include: Andy Warhol and Gianni Versace, Jil Sander and Picasso, Tracy Emim for Longchamp, Gary Hume and Marni, Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton, and many more.


Monogram Multicolore Speedy City Bag and Monogramouflage Collection

Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton

Image from www.highsnobiety.com


The creative space in Nigeria has had a few collaborations between fashion designers and Visual artists. In 2009, Folake Folarin Coker of Tiffany Amber collaborated with one of Nigeria’s greatest artist Kolade Oshinowo for the “Rhapsody of Fashion and Art event. Kolade Oshionowo’s painting market mood was printed on fabric, which was then made into lovely fashion pieces by Tiffany Amber (https://www.bellanaija.com/2009/12/bn-red-carpet-fab-tiffany-amber-rhapsody-of-art-fashion-event/). In 2012, both of them came together again for the Arise Fashion Icons Collective, which took place in New York at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. The collection was named Rhythm of Africa. This time Mr Oshinowo created prints for Tiffany Amber’s collection.


Rhythm of Africa Collection

Image from bellanaija.com


In 2014, Ituen Basi collaborated with Victor Ehikhamenor for her 2014 spring collection ‘Ekemini’. Victor Ehikhamenor is one of Nigeria’s celebrated Visual artists. He is extremely talented with his works gracing different surfaces such as book covers, wall murals and so on. Ekemini, in my opinion, is one of the best collaborations I have come across in Africa. Victor Ehikhamenor’s handwritten, almost doodle style and Ituen Basi’s design was a seamless work of art.



Ituen Basi and Victor Ehikhamenor

Image from Genevieve Magazine, April 2014


Other collaborations include artist/illustrator Karo Akpokiere with fashion label Jewel By Lisa (Lisa Folawiyo) (which has happened twice by the way) and Fashion House, Grey Projects. These joint effort involved Karo designing lovely prints for the fashion label’s collections.


Grey Projects and Karo Akpokiere
Image from http://greyinc.blogspot.com/


Fashion is such an important in our society but it’s often looked down as a shallow expression of visual arts. Collaborations between fashion designers and visual artists are something that is here to stay because it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Mutual in that Visual artists gain a wider viewing populace due to their works being transferred unto a different wearable surface and Fashion designers according to an article on www.we-heart.com “gains serious cachet by association”.



2012 MTN Lagos Fashion & Design Week: Tiffany Amber presents “Rhythm of Africa”

7 of Our Favorite Louis Vuitton x Murakami Pieces As the Collaboration Comes To An End


When Fashion and Art Collide


80 Years Later, Schiaparelli Brings Back Elsa’s Famous Lobster Dress




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