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Why Fashion Influences Artists

Art imitates life. Or, so the saying goes. The art of fashion is no different. Artists are profoundly influenced by the world around them, including the world of fashion. Fashion finds its’ way into the hearts and minds of all kinds of artists. So, how does fashion influence artists?

S.O.F.A. (Sculptural Objects Functional Art & Design) in Chicago is an explosion of color. It is almost visual overload with over 80 art dealers from around the world and over 35,000 art aficionados who visit each year. With anywhere between 15-20 million dollars spent each year, collectors are likely to find that one unique piece of art at the annual fair. S.O.F.A. is where art and style collide.

Looking at all mediums at S.O.F.A. including sculpture, paintings, mixed media and even glass, fashion influences art, I see fashion’s influence everywhere as I walk through S.O.F.A.

Art Imitates Life

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Fashion moved glass blower, Alexis Silk to create this life sized glass sculpture (pictured above) clothed in a metal skirt accessorized by coins. Beginning with a fashion sketch, Silk created this piece she calls The Money Slave in her Murano, Italy glass studio. Fashion was part of Silk’s inspiration.

Outfitted with bronze cuffs on her arms and ankles, the figure sports a matching choker. One of the hottest trends in dresses today is the Hi-Low Skirt. These are skirts which have a hem that is high in the front and low in the back.

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This Hi-Low Skirt, (pictured above) featured by Forever 21, offers the same style as The Money Slave as shown at S.O.F.A. The art follows the trends of the day.

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Another sculptor showed a more victorian version of the Hi-Low Skirt. This time the materials were more conventional using fabric for the dress partnered with a tuile, ribbon and lace. The figure composed of ceramic seems to have something important to say, but is frozen in place. Perhaps she’s just wants to show off her new fashion.

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Vintage Style

Some fashion is retro. Memories often inspire us. Beverly Mayori, created this sculpture entitled Contemporary Women. Even though this piece is simple in it’s execution, it exudes a 1940’s fashion sense. The wide lapels framing this face make this blouse look like something that Lauren Bacall or Katherine Hepburn would wear out to a casual lunch with the girls.

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Sometimes fashion becomes the art. In these wall hangings, the representation here is what the viewer wants to make of it. These two pieces of ready-to-wear may remind you of a Snuggie or just an adult onesie. While these pieces may look cozy and comfortable, they are just for looks. Hang them on the wall for color, texture and of course style.

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Art Illuminates

Sometimes fashion inspires art in the practical sense. Therefore, this piece is a chandelier designed to not only light the home where it hangs, but to beautify it as well. Made of blown glass and strings of crystals, this dress is reminiscent of 1890’s costumes worn by Can-Can Dancers of Paris’ Moulin Rouge. Every day can be a celebration with this dancing girl hanging in your foyer while lighting your home.

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Sometimes the couture and fashions of the runway can have an impact on art. Or is the couture art? Chicken and egg syndrome I suppose. The styles that strut on the runways of New York’s Fashion Week are often visual pieces of tasty candy. So, why not make art fashion forward too. No need to stick to conservative conventions. Art is progressive. Perhaps, art influences clothing. Consider this dress (pictured below) comprised of felt botanicals.

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What Does It All Mean?

Is it animal, mineral or plant? Does it really matter? And as a result, this dress is surely the kind of haute couture that would be comfortable either on the runway or in the gallery.

My final analysis is that fashion is art. Whether it came first and inspired the art doesn’t really matter. They are two exciting worlds that coexist separately and sometimes beautifully merge on the canvas or on a model.

Broaden your horizons and check out a local gallery. You’ll be surprised what you find and how it makes you feel.

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Why Fashion Influences Artists
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This article explores how fashion manifests itself into various forms of art.
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