Fine Arts Inspiration Is The Best Kind Of Wardrobe Refresh
We know that fashion designers find inspiration from every angle imaginable, but there’s particularly a cool symbiosis that seems to happen with other creatives. From the people that surround them to influential historic icons, fine arts are always linked in some way to designers and the clothes we wear. But this spring took things to another level. So many collections are splashed with painterly prints, abstract lines, and structural details all paying homage to a myriad of multidisciplinary artists.
Some references are easy to see while others are hidden among color choice and detail execution, but all encapsulate the power of art. Here are eight artists to know in the world where fashion and fine arts collide.
Known for his photo collages, portraits and iconic paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools, David Hockney is one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. He is not only a painter, but a printmaker, photographer, draftsman and stage designer. His work is light yet frank, creating a completely unique, expressionistic style of his own. His influence has only increased and he continues to keep his eccentric creative character alive and strong.
Wray Serna, the designer behind Brooklyn-based line Wray, is known for her vibrant prints and eclectic, yet classic aesthetic. She regularly works with her partner in crime – her husband, Ethan – who paints many of their prints. This season David Hockney took over as an inspiration in several ways. “It started when we visited his most recent New York show at Pace Gallery titled "Yosemite Suite". Ethan and I were both attracted to Hockney's Yosemite digital iPad paintings from this show.” The duo was influenced not only by the paintings, but also by people’s mixed reactions to the show. “We loved that people were having a strong reaction to this non -traditional medium and wanted to create a print that had a similar reaction and feel, mainly because it is so non-traditional.” They also drew inspiration from Hockney as a person. “A lot of the silhouettes and details in the collection are based on clothing artists wear as well as what we would imagine Hockney wearing when he is working.” From painters jackets to smock dresses, Wray’s spring collection embodies a sense of creative freedom that will get you feeling like an artist even if you can’t draw to save your life.
Photo courtesy of Wray SS17 lookbook – Green Tree Print Dress
There is no doubt that Georgia O’Keefe was one of the most important artists for American modernism. Known for her canvases depicting distinct flowers, luminous skyscrapers, vibrant landscapes, and animal bones and skulls – her work was truly innovative. On top of her innate artistic talent she was also a painter who broke boundaries by pursuing a career that was dominated by men. Her legacy continues to influence people including designers such as Shaina Mote, and Starr Hout and Laura Cramer of Apiece Apart.
Shaina Mote’s Spring 2017 collection took inspiration from O’Keeffe’s ranch in Abiquiu, Mexico where the artist spent half her life painting the landscape, architecture and culture that surrounded her. This inspiration was anchored in Mote’s desert clay hues, washed canvas and summer linen pieces. The collection projects a sense of warmth and power in one breath.
The designers behind Apiece Apart, Starr Hout and Laura Cramer, regularly take inspiration from art, architecture and interior design. They too are heavily influenced by the works of O’Keeffe for this season: her ranch and her feminist stance in history. Their spring collection paints an impression of the Southwestern desert, which was sunk into pieces of denim blouses, khaki jumpsuits, flowy dresses and white power suits.
Photo courtesy of Apiece Apart SS17 lookbook
Annie Costello Brown
Annie Costello Brown was practically destined to design. She grew up on a houseboat in the 1970’s surrounded by artists and musicians leading her into a life of creativity. She has become not just a jeweler but a true artisan. Her handmade ACB line is the perfect amount of maximalism from the minimalist. Think oversized, dramatic geometric shapes made with silver, brass and gold. Her eclectic yet dignified line oozes artistic cool vibes.
This spring Black Crane collaborated with Annie on a select number of pieces to create striking prints. Design partners Momoko Suzuki and Alexander Yamaguchi also have creative backgrounds – Momoko in art and architecture, Alexander in silkscreen printing and patterning expertise. So the trio was bound to create something outstanding together. The outcome? A mix of abstract shapes and lines, with a completely hand-drawn feel. Just like Annie’s aesthetic, these prints are intricate yet uncomplicated, bold yet simple. They are the perfect way to make a statement without having to say a word.
Photo courtesy of West End Select
Barbara Hepworth is yet another powerful artist who distinguished herself in a world where female artists were rare. She grew up in Yorkshire and attended the Leeds School of Art in 1920, which is where she met sculptor Henry Moore. Their friendship propelled each other’s creativity and even started a friendly rivalry between the two. In the world of British modernism, her sculpting pushed boundaries and helped shift three dimensional art works into greater abstractions. Her ideas were complex, which showed when she complicated clean lines with different textures to disrupt the idea of modern aesthetics. She was always adding a level of curiosity for her viewer. Her cutting-edge work and position as a key figure in the history of women artists remains an influence for many contemporary artists and others.
The sister design duo behind New York-based jewelry line AGMES constantly look to Hepworth and her work for inspiration. “Barbara Hepworth’s work has been a great inspiration for us. The smooth curves and organic shapes of her sculptures have helped to inform our collections.” This season’s Hepworth Pendent was influenced by one of Hepworth’s most notably pieces: the Curved Form, Bryher II sculpted in 1961. Their representation of Hepworth’s bold, curvaceous lines is stunning. And these ladies have designed their own piece of art to hang gently around your neck.
In the world of luxury furniture, Karl Springer knew how to take classical shapes and turn them into contemporary, exotic pieces. His design fame accelerated in the the 1970s and ‘80s when he was exposed to new materials from travel, which fueled his creative freedom. Out of this came Springer’s signature style: incorporating Art Deco, freeform, Asian and African influences into modern designs.
His work was another inspiration for AGMES’s spring collection. “We love Karl Springer’s work. Our Jean Cuff was inspired by the sinuous shapes of his Free Form Table series.” Springer’s series brought to life a chic, elegant sensibility to furnishings. They were not your average coffee tables, but rather rich, striking pieces of art turned into functional furniture. The curved shapes are seriously enchanting, just like AGMES’s cuff.
Tony Duquette’s upbringing was surrounded by artists. He was raised in southern California in a musically inclined family that supported his outlandish style and creative endeavors. This encouragement surely aided Duquette into a life of multidisciplinary art. He was a painter, sculptor, jeweler, interior designer, and costumer extraordinaire. In the early 1940s his work began to take off and catch eye of many socialites including Elsie de Wolfe. His lavish, theatrical designs and decor marked his signature touch as something truly magical. He didn’t design with reality in mind but rather with fantasy. So when it came to overdoing it and creating a sense of extravagant excess, Duquette was the guy. He passed away in 1999 but, his legacy continues to this day – everything Duquette lies in Dawnridge the house he and his wife Elizabeth Duquette built in 1949.
This spring Ace & Jig designers Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson took inspiration from the eye of Duquette with bold pattern play, ambitious color schemes and unique textural layering. Think swingy button down reversible skirts in vibrant colors and bold stripes and ruffled diagonal striped dresses layered over patterned blouses and striped cropped trousers. They brought to life Duquette’s theatrical elements and made a sense of artistic chaos into something quite simple and beautiful.
Photo courtesy of Task
Before Wayne Pate ventured into drawing, painting and printmaking, he spent his days and nights as a graphic designer and DJ. His creative nature pushed him to the arts and with no formal training. Pate is a one hundred percent self-taught artist. His pieces focus on playing with lines and come to life in everything from small illustrations to elaborate wall paintings. He even dips his toes into hand-painted lampshades that are seriously cool (an art lover’s home good must). Pate’s work truly breathes a whimsical spirit.
New York-based line WHIT regularly collaborates with artists when it comes to creating their seasonal prints. “We love collaborating with people we admire and have always wanted WHIT to be about working with a community. We find inspiration from everywhere, but more often from art than anything else,” says designer Whitney Pozgay. The list of artists they’ve worked with is, well, impressive:Jason Bereswill, Mary Matson, Jemme Aldridge, Adam Handler, Isabell Feliu, to name a few. This spring they collaborated with Pate himself. “We have been big fans of Wayne Pate's for a while. We love his paintings and when we decided we wanted to do a citrus print for the collection, he was first to mind. We were so thrilled when he agreed to work with us.” The print is obviously amazing. It’s fresh, playful and sophisticated – the only way to rock a citrus print this spring.
Photo courtesy of WHIT SS17 lookbook
Frida Kahlo is an icon of feminist creativity and strength. Growing up in Coyocoán, Mexico City, she lived a difficult life. At a young age she contracted polio, which damaged her right leg and foot and as a student in 1925 she was involved in a bus accident leaving Kahlo severely injured. Despite her tragedies, she pursued a life filled with creativity and purpose. She is remembered for her self-portraits, vibrant colors, and expression of pain and passion. She brought to life the female experience and form like it had never been expressed before: raw and true. Her masterpieces were often the ones that exposed her suffering in the most straightforward way. Regularly painted nude, her work did not evoke vulnerability, but rather strength and beauty. Kahlo’s outspoken position will never be forgotten and goes on to be a leading source of inspiration for many female fashion designers.
It was after a trip to Mexico that Jade Lai, the designer behind Creatures of Comfort, found her inspiration for SS17. She infused her cultural discoveries into pieces that carry a vibrant spirit such as silky separates and slips, apron dresses, cropped trousers with ruffled details and an array of bright saturated hues. Featured in the spring party is also an ongoing vibe of bold femininity – a stark reflection of Miss Frida Kahlo herself. Explicit Kahlo references made their way onto embroidered denim jackets and harness-inspired looks (a direct vision from Kahlo’s “The Broken Column” oil painting circa 1944).
Photo courtesy of Oroboro