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How paintings by famous artists became part of fashion, shaping a new style of the twentieth century
How paintings by famous artists became part of fashion, shaping a new style of the twentieth century

The links between art and fashion define specific moments in history. Both of these mediums reflect social, economic and political changes from the roaring twenties to the vibrant eighties. Here are four examples of artists and fashion designers who, through their work, helped shape a new perspective on 20th century art and fashion.

1. Halston & Warhol: Fashion Brotherhood

Four Portraits of Halston, Andy Warhol. \ Photo:

The friendship between Roy Halston and Andy Warhol defined the artistic world. Both Roy and Andy were leaders who paved the way for the artist / designer to become a celebrity. They removed the pretentious stigma of the art world and brought fashion and style to the masses. Warhol used silk-screen printing several times to create the images. Although he certainly did not invent the process, he revolutionized the idea of ​​mass production.

Roy used fabrics and patterns that were simple and elegant yet glamorous with his use of sequins, ultras and silk. He was one of the first to make American fashion accessible and desirable. Both left their final mark on art and style throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, which continues to this day.

Both Roy and Andy have worked together on many different projects. Warhol created advertising campaigns that featured Halston's clothing and even Halston himself. In turn, Halston used the Warhol floral print in some of his clothing collections, from evening gowns to leisure sets.

Left to right: Flowers, 1970. \ Lisa, 1978. \ Flowers, 1970. (All works by Andy Warhol). \ Photo:

Roy used simple patterns in his clothes, which made them very successful. They were comfortable to wear, but also had a touch of luxury thanks to the fabrics, colors and prints. Warhol also simplified his materials and process. This made it easier to reproduce his work and made them more salable.

Commercial success has had its own challenges for both artists. Halston was the first to partner with retail chain JCPenney in 1982 and this has affected the quality of his brand. Warhol was also met with criticism, as his work was perceived as superficial. However, both have modernized their retail and marketing use in their respective spaces to create brands for mass market sales.

Left to right: Halston gown, 1972. \ Dress with a cape, 1966. \ Suit, 1974. \ Photo:

Roy and Andy were frequent visitors to Studio 54. They threw parties, designed and produced works for celebrities such as Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger and Elizabeth Taylor. All of this is reflected in their work as they inspired and defined the disco era of the 1970s.

Left to right: Diamond shoes, 1980. \ Diamond shoes with a woman's dress, 1972. \ Photo:

Halston was known for creating glittery evening wear. Roy laid the sequins horizontally on the fabric, creating a shimmery effect of the material he used to create luxurious outfits loved by many glamorous ladies.

The Warhol Diamond Dust Shoe Series also illustrates the nightlife of Studio 54 and the celebrities living there. Diamond dust is what he used over stencils or paintings, creating an extra element of depth for the piece. And his shoes were originally the idea for Halston's ad campaign. In any case, these two made a huge contribution to fashion, leaving an indelible mark behind them. Indeed, even today, many modern designers are inspired by the ideas of Andy and Roy, creating magnificent collections with echoes of the past.

2. Sonia Delaunay: When art becomes fashion

Sonia Delaunay with two friends in the studio of Robert Delaunay, 1924. \ Photo:

Sonia Delaunay not only revolutionized a new form of Cubism, but also introduced the connection between art and fashion.Both Delaunay and her husband were pioneers of Orphism and experimented with various forms of abstraction in art. She was the first of her kind to use her own artistic style and move into the fashion world using her original textile designs, prints or patterns. She is more remembered for her art and connection with her husband than for her fashion. Her style played a major role in the 1920s, and her clothing catalog is remembered more for photographs and references to her art than the garments themselves. For Sonya, there was and there is no border between art and fashion. For her, they are one and the same.

Left to right: Three Dresses, Sonia Delaunay, 1925. \ Three dresses in one, 1913. \ Photo:

She started her fashion business in the 1920s, creating clothes for clients and designing fabrics for manufacturers. Sonya named her label Simultaneous and went even further with the use of color and pattern on various subjects. Simultaneity played an important role in her work, and her unusual technique was reminiscent of a patchwork quilt or textiles from Eastern Europe: colors were superimposed on each other, and patterns were used to create harmony and rhythm. Her common themes include squares / rectangles, triangles and diagonal lines or spheres - all of which overlap in her various designs.

Works by Sonia Delaunay. \ Photo:

Delaunay was a young woman during the Edwardian era, when corsets and conformity were the norm. This changed in the 1920s when women began to wear skirts above the knee and loose, form-fitting clothing. This aspect can be seen in Delaunay's designs and she was passionate about creating clothes that fit the needs of women. Sonya developed swimwear that allowed women to feel more comfortable, even while playing sports and swimming. She put her prints on coats, shoes, hats and even cars, using any surface as a canvas. Her designs created freedom of movement and expression through color and shape.

From left to right: Costume for a film by Rene Le Somptier, 1926. \ Cleopatra costume for Russian ballet, 1918. \ Photo:

Throughout her career, she constantly tried herself in something new, and as a result, moved to cinema and theater. Sonia designed the costumes for Rene Le Somptier's The Little Parisian, while her husband did the set for the film. She was fond of geometric shapes, deftly combining and mixing them with each other, creating bizarre patterns and broken lines that have become her hallmark.

3. Collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali

The Shoe Hat. \ Photo:

The avant-garde of surreal art is combined with the leader of surreal fashion. Salvador Dali and fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli have collaborated and inspired each other throughout their careers. They created iconic looks such as Lobster Dress, The Shoe Hat and The Tear Dress that shocked and inspired audiences in both art and fashion. Dali and Schiaparelli paved the way for future collaboration between fashion designers and artists, bridging the gap between what is considered wearable art and fashion. Dali used lobsters as a recurring theme in his work and was interested in their anatomy.

Dress "Omar". \ Photo:

Dress "Omar" is a joint work of Elsa and Dali, and their creation caused a lot of controversy not only on the day of its debut, but also after. First, it has a sheer bodice and a white organza skirt. The unusual outfit literally blew up the fashion world, causing a lot of controversy on this score. The use of white cloth also contrasts with the red color of the lobster. White can be considered virgin or symbolizing purity compared to red, which can mean relaxedness, power, or danger.

Left to right: Woman with a flower head, Salvador Dali, 1935. \ Dress Skeleton, Elsa Schiaparelli, 1938. \ Photo:

Skeletons are another theme found in surreal art and have been used in more collaborations between Dali and Schiaparelli. The Skeleton dress was the first of its kind. Elsa used a technique called trapunto, where two layers of fabric are stitched together, creating an outline where the batting is inserted, thereby creating an embossed effect.This technique creates a textured surface on a flat fabric, giving the illusion that human bones are protruding through the dress. This caused a scandal because the dress was made of an elastic material that adhered to the skin. The fantasies of Dali's paintings and drawings were embodied in the unreal world of Schiaparelli's outfits, which to this day make an indelible impression on both spectators and designers.

4. Yves Saint Laurent: The Clash of Art and Inspiration

Left to right: Picasso dress by Yves Saint Laurent, 1988. \ Birds of Georges Braque, 1953. Photo:

Where is the line between imitation and appreciation? Critics, audiences, artists and designers have struggled to determine where this line runs. However, when it came to Yves Saint Laurent, his intentions were nothing more than flattery and admiration for the artists and paintings he used as inspiration. Looking at his vast portfolio, Saint Laurent was inspired by cultures and art from around the world, which he successfully incorporated into his clothing.

Left to right: Cocktail dress - tribute to Pete Mondrian, 1965. \ Evening dress - tribute to Tom Wesselmann, 1966. \ Photo:

Although Yves never met the artists who inspired him, that did not stop him from creating artwork as a sign of respect for them. Laurent drew inspiration from artists such as Matisse, Mondrian, Van Gogh, Georges Braque and Picasso. He was an art collector and collected paintings by Picasso and Matisse, which he hung in his home.

Yves took some of the art motifs and turned them into stunning clothing that pays homage to some of his favorite artists. The 1960s were a time of revolution and commercialism, a new era of fashion and art. Saint Laurent's projects gained commercial success when he began to draw inspiration from pop art and abstraction. In 1965, he created twenty-six dresses inspired by abstract paintings by Piet Mondrian. The dresses embodied Mondrian's use of simplistic shapes and bold primary colors. Yves used a technique in which no seams were visible between the layers of fabric, which gave the impression that the clothes were one whole piece. Saint Laurent took Mondrian's art from the 1920s and made it wearable relative to the 1960s.

Left to right: Detail of a Van Gogh-style jacket, 1988. \ Famous Van Gogh Sunflowers, 1889. \ Photo:

Fashion style dresses are classic examples of 1960s style. They were similar to 1920s clothing that was less constrained and had sleeves and hemlines that expose large patches of skin. Saint Laurent's square silhouettes made women feel light and free. This also led him to inspiration from pop art artists such as Tom Wesselman and Andy Warhol. He created a line of pop art inspired designs that featured silhouettes and cutouts on his clothing. It was about overcoming the limitations of what abstraction is in art and the commercialization of design. Laurent brought these two ideas together to create clothes for women that are free and attractive to modern ladies.

Jacket in the style of Van Gogh, 1988. \ Photo:

Saint Laurent's Vincent Van Gogh Jackets are an example of how Yves combined artist inspiration with his own design talents. Like his other garments, artist-related themes were not copied and pasted onto Saint Laurent's clothing. Instead, he chose to use them as a source of inspiration and create pieces that reflect his own style. The jacket is an example of the 80s style, which is embroidered with sunflowers in the picturesque Van Gogh style.

Laurent has collaborated with Maison Lesage, a leader in haute couture embroidery. Jacket "Sunflowers" is embroidered with tubular beads. The flowers are filled with different shades of orange and yellow sparkles. This creates a multidimensional texture similar to Van Gogh's technique of applying thick paint to canvas. It is estimated to be one of the most expensive haute couture items ever made and sold at Christie's for nearly four hundred thousand euros. Saint Laurent paved the way for wearing clothing as a work of art in and of itself, regardless of fashion and time period.

Continuing the topic, read also about which led Saeko Yamaguchi to success, making her one of the most beloved muses of Kenzo and Yamamoto.

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