When fashion is art

From Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian to Vuitton’s recent collaboration with artist Jeff Koons. We take a journey through history, highlighting the times in which designers have been inspired by art for their collections.
Art and fashion have always had a close relationship. Both are aesthetic expressions, they drink from the creativity of their interpreters and, in addition, on numerous occasions, they have been inspired by each other. Proof of this is the recent collaboration between Louis Vuitton and artist Jeff Koons. And although it is not the only time that the house has been inspired by the art world; yes, it is the first in Louis Vuitton history that an artist has been allowed to reconfigure his famous monogram.

In this sense, and under the name ‘Masters’, Koons has covered classic works by the grand
it is from painting like Da Vinci, Titian, Reubens, Fragonard and Van Gogh; using as unique canvas the most iconic Vuitton bags such as the Speedy, the Keepal or the Neverfull, among others. The result has been a complete success within the industry, not only because of the ingenuity of the idea, but also because of the quality and talent that they have brought together in this exclusive collaboration. Jeff Koons is considered one of the most sought-after contemporary creators of the moment, so the house could not have chosen anyone better to breathe new life into its classics.
A luxury collaboration that joins a long list of firms that, since Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge designed spacious unisex tunics inspired by the liberating principles of modernism in the 19th century, have also opted to follow their creative example. But if we have to highlight one of them, this would undoubtedly be Yves Saint Laurent. Recognized lover of art personally, he also knew how to reflect (and in what way) this passion in his designs.

from Mondrian to Van Gogh

The French couturier was a visionary. Saint Laurent not only designed the wardrobe for feminine modernity, but also knew how to establish a perfect dialogue between the beauty of painting and the sophistication of fashion. From a very young age he was drawn to the multitude of possibilities that art offered him and did not hesitate to encourage everyone to follow his example. In fact, he himself would affirm on one occasion:

”I have been inspired by a large number of painters in my designs because I believe that art is not only part of culture but also of life and it must be shown to everyone.”

For this reason, from the beginning, references to the art world were very frequent in its collections. Through the dresses, he reproduced the aesthetics of famous paintings, offering the best of both aspects and without neglecting the sensuality of the woman he always bet on.

It was in the winter of 1965 that Yves paid homage to the painter Mondrian by adapting the principles of his abstract and harmonic paintings to straight wool dresses. The most popular design was inspired by the painting “Tableu II” (1922) -a composition in blue, red, yellow and black-, which became one of the most popular of the designer and also, the person responsible for making this The first collection in the history of fashion to integrate the Pop Art genre in Haute Couture. Saint Laurent always said that Pop Art meant the expression of his youth, for this reason he continued to pay tribute to other artists related to this movement such as Tom Wesselmann or the Russian painter Serge Poliakoff, in whose works he was inspired to create cocktail dresses in 1966.

Later, around the 1980s, he also opted for Cubism and Fauvism. In this case, the couturier was inspired by Georges Braque’s lithographs to shape an unconventional wedding dress and by the nature of Matisse, with his popular colored hands, those that he stamped on party skirts for his fall collection- winter of 1988. That same year he also bet on Van Gogh to fill his spring designs with color, stamping the paintings “Los Girasoles” (1888) and “Los lirios” (1889) on jackets and dresses.

An unprecedented success that evidenced the quality of his knowledge on the subject; in part, thanks to his relationship with Pierre Bergé. The French designer and businessman managed to create one of the most important private art collections in the sector. As a result of their many trips, they brought together more than 700 pieces, including works by the greats of painting, as well as objects from the Renaissance, drawings, goldsmiths, archeology and Asian art.

A booming trend

Despite the fact that the Mondrian dress has been for more than 50 years, the union between these two aesthetic expressions has been a constant in the collections and runways of many of the Haute Couture and ready-to-wear designers. Giants like Versace, Dior or Valentino have been carried away by their creativity and following the example of Saint Laurent they have presented us with designs that, like those of the French couturier, will go down in history.

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