Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
Explore the emerging methods of creativity and innovation, as interaction between unlikely fields becomes the norm and rules no longer apply.
In a time when fashion is accepted as art and hair is a form of architecture, it appears that the limitations and boundaries that were once evident between genres have now been blurred as we make way for a modern approach to innovative creativity, which takes form and is accessible across numerous fields. Emulation, of course, is the greatest form of flattery and as the love affair between fashion and art escalates, designers, stylists and artists of all variations and industries are being given opportunities to work with new canvases, techniques and genres. The dialogue and discussion between these artistic realms is gaining strength, as modern creatives strive to break through the limitations of the past. In this ever expanding debate, there is, as always, an opposing argument which maintains there continues to be clear distinctions between genres and what can be classified as art. However, as we continue to experience and champion successful, but unlikely, collaborations, it becomes clear that the art of creating and constructing can now take form and be showcased across opposing and counteracting platforms. Inspiration is intangible and this new idea of creating now allows artists to not only draw on inspiration from opposing fields, but to follow each area of their concept through entirely by creating something that is relevant and accessible across multiple platforms.
In this innovative development of creation, the boundaries are becoming less defined as fashion joins forces with the arts. Fashion power houses Louis Vuitton and Prada are among those who have accepted the importance and impact of art and design, leading the way as they provoke interaction between the once distant worlds of fashion, architecture and art. ‘Louis Vuitton: Art, Fashion And Architecture,’ is a richly illustrated compilation that gives readers a look inside the luxury brand’s history, showcasing a selection of the creative exchanges forged between Louis Vuitton and designers from the worlds of photography, art, design, architecture and fashion. Similarly Prada’s self titled book, ‘Prada,’ takes readers through a three decade journey of ground-breaking creations and creative partnerships in the realms of fashion, architecture, film, photography and art. Each artistic field is a valid creative act taking inspiration from each different entity and these publications have helped to document this development, highlighting that the distinct separation between creative fields no longer applies. It is a development of a modern aesthetic, explains Lucia Arias-Martinez, Creative Director of bsePRODUCTION, “Everything is a living form of art and we are all borrowing ideas however, associations are the strongest tool today to create the ultimate and most powerful image. It is bold and unexpected.” More recently, this idea of modern creativity has made its way onto the runways at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, (RAFW), as designers broaden the lines of their influence. The Spring/Summer 2011/12 collections featured the strong presence of architectural shapes, with the return of distinct lines, structured designs and purposeful cuts. Magdalena Velevska’s pin-fine pleating and Dion Lee’s sculptural tailoring, angular splits and origami folds, further highlighted the architectural direction of summer fashion and the strong unison between the creative elements. The collection encapsulated opposing forces and shapes from the clinical to the chaotic, explains Lee, “There's a focus on silhouette, micro short shapes transition into cutaway skirts, through to austere, sober shapes,” he says.
Dion Lee RAFW S/S 11/12
Magdelena Velevska RAFW S/S 11/12
Fashion isn’t the only element however, reflecting this ideal of artistic cross over. Richard Ashforth, Founding Partner of Saco Hair, explains that the concept of great architecture and design not only revolves around form and function but also remains sympathetic to its environment, “It should embrace cutting edge technology, whilst still embracing core values, I feel these things are also ever present in great hair. Respect the medium we work in and how it needs to function.” The concept of architectural shapes and constructs evident at RAFW also transcended through into the hair direction. Bowie’s couture collection took inspiration from the unique art of origami, transforming the designs into wearable creations and graceful paper folds. Kenneth Stoddart, Moroccan Oil Hair Director, created two structured silhouettes of tough contemporary texture, “It was a couture show, so it’s always quite theatrical, I always take my inspiration from the clothes, so that the whole thing works as a package,” he says. Taking direction from the strong architectural shapes of the designs, Stoddart sculpted and moulded the hair into high vertical peaks and wide horizontal shapes, “You can see the teased hair, the imperfection and the strong silhouette reflective of the architecturally influenced collection,” says Stoddart. In a time where your phone is no longer only a phone and genders have the ability to cross over and fit into mainstream society, Marc Armstrong, Director RAW Hair, explains that expectations have changed with the times, “You can get inspired by all of your senses, however our industry is very visual and that’s why I feel that it makes seamless transitions into other visual industries like architecture and art.” Armstrong and his team recently explored this idea, creating and styling hair themed around landmark buildings such as The Chrysler and The Guggenheim, “The results were incredible, we had hair that had such structured definition, hair that did not look like hair but was still beautiful in many ways. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder everywhere,” says Armstrong.
Bowie RAFW S/S 11/12
While the idea that fashion is in fact art results in a continual debate, the interaction between the two creative realms provokes discussion and friction in a positive manner, as the artistic areas become further and further intertwined. Designers now have the ability to offer artists new canvases and creative outlets as a means to showcase their work. Julie Verhoeven, Fashion Illustrator and Artist, was commissioned by Marc Jacobs to create sketches for Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2002 handbags, while in 2010 Balenciaga designer Nicholas Ghesquière featured French Artist, Dominique Gonzalez-Feerster, who generated collage-like, textual prints for the brand’s fall womenswear collection. However, the collaboration doesn’t always occur in the form of one person, museums are devoting entire exhibitions to the craft of fashion design and its craftsmen, proving that dialogue between the two worlds is stronger than ever. 2010 saw the Gallery of Modern Art, (GoMA), in Brisbane, present the exclusive, ‘Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future,’ an exhibition devoted to the celebration of Italian fashion house, Valentino. The exhibition explored the techniques and re-occurring motifs in ornamentation and the creative elements of volume, surface and line. Similarly, ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,’ was a theatrical exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (The Met), celebrating McQueen’s extraordinary contributions to the world of fashion. McQueen challenged traditional ideas of beauty and as a result expanded the understanding of fashion. Alexander McQueen’s iconic designs were celebrated in the exhibition in 2011 and he was recognised as an artist whose medium was fashion.
Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future
This new concept of artistic interpretation and the manipulation of contradicting creative platforms has also ventured into architecture. The shapes and lines of buildings and construction are now not only influencing, but also reflecting and representing the principals of fashion design. Architecture is borrowing and moulding the techniques of fashion, such as pleating and draping and applying them to the design of buildings. Architects have the ability to observe the construction of fashion and the volumetric form of fabric and the result is architectural art works that are interactive, innovative and in some cases portable. Well known architects such as Diller Scofidio and Renfro made names for themselves as they create transformations of dressmaking techniques. Fashion and architecture are both creative mediums that appeal to and address our basic human needs, providing us with the ability to express our identity. These different disciplines of design, all fall under the same umbrella of art, explains Andrzej K Pytel, Architect, Fashion Designer and Founder of the SIZE Concept Store, “There is ultimately a final purpose, which is considered by each field, and they all have a set of trialled and tested methods, techniques and design processes, with the purpose of capturing and intensifying the experience of life.” Working with new materials and alternative processes results in unpredictable and valuable outcomes, explains Pytel, “It is the reading and interpretation of the emergent results that becomes a galaxy for the migration of these ideas that have been born at a cross-roads between the contexts. Successful migration and adaptation of this new data, paves the way to innovation and optimisation of these new artistic relationships.”
House of EZIS 45 Degree Collection
As interaction between creative outlets becomes the norm, the collaborations between artistic fields produce new innovative approaches to creativity. The exploration of this development shows a true integration between unlikely genres as the boundaries and limitations between contexts no longer apply. As interaction between different artistic realms gains strength and creative collaborations become the expected, we are able to view and accept works of art across a multitude of outlets. These creative fields challenge us to accept the love affair between fashion and art and embrace architecturally influenced hair design, as it is with these collaborations that we see true integration and an emergence of new and exciting artistic relationships. As we continue to celebrate these unlikely unities, it becomes evident that the art of creating and constructing now has the ability to be relevant and accessible over all creative platforms. It is an innovative aesthetic in which contradicting collaborations produce an acceptance of intangible and integrated ideals, embracing inspiration, creativity and constructs of art across all platforms.
Images: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wendell Teodoro, Queensland Art Gallery, Duncan Robinson and Magdalena Velevska