Looking at the proliferating cross-pollination of fine artists and fashion design (Nan Goldin for Jimmy Choo, Terence Koh for Opening Ceremony, Ai Weiwei for W), we decided to take a look back and remember some of the truly successful collaborations within these two fields.

5. Stephen Sprouse’s Warhol Print Dress

Stephen Sprouse’s “Andy Warhol Print Dress” (1987) (via Madison Avenue Couture)

From the designer’s Fall 1987 collection, Sprouse’s wild frock in many ways remains iconoclastic of great 1980s style. Made shortly after the Warhol’s death, Sprouse was the only fashion designer the Andy Warhol Foundation allowed to use the artist’s work as prints.

Warhol himself may have experimented with fashion design in his early days, but it took the skill and know-how of a true designer to successfully meld the artist’s paintings with clothing. Though the actual cut of the dress is fairly simple (interest only coming from the slightly structured shoulders and Mandarin collar), when rendered in Warhol’s candy-colored camouflage print, it really (pardon the pun) pops.

4. Louis Vuitton’s Takashi Murakami Bag

Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton “Neverfull Bag” (via outtheway.blogspot.com)

Who would’ve thought the Louis Vuitton customer would be so receptive to space aliens and manga-esque cherry blossoms scattered all over their bags? It might’ve seemed like a pretty big risk for Marc Jacobs to enlist the talents of the Japanese Warhol Takashi Murakami in 2002 to essentially deface the iconic Louis Vuitton pattern, but lo and behold the Pop prints turned out to be a huge success, artistically and financially speaking.

3. Robert Gober’s Wedding Dress

Robert Gober, “Wedding Dress” 1989 (via edwardlifson.blogspot.com)

Though technically not “fashion” in the strictest sense (meaning it was not made by a fashion designer nor produced for a client in mind), Robert Gober’s 1989 installation exploits conventional signs of fashion as well as utilizing a custom-made article of clothing as a sculpture. Though the wedding dress works in conjunction with a startling backdrop (repeated images of a Black man being hanged while a White man sleeps peacefully), the dress itself, though a cliché of bridal design, remains an un-wearable sculpture whilst still resembling a piece of fashion.

2. Elsa Schiaparelli’s Lobster Dress

Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali “Lobster Dress” (1937) (via Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Inspired by her peer Salvador Dali’s use of the crustacean in pieces like Lobster Telephone (1936), Schiaparelli asked the surrealist to paint a lobster down the front of this white organza evening dress in 1937. Since Dali’s selection of lobsters is commonly interpreted as an erotic statement, its placement directly between the wearer’s legs was particularly suggestive. Of course, that didn’t prevent socialite Wallis Simpson posing in it for her wedding photographs before marrying the Duke of Windsor in May 1937.

1. Yves St. Laurent’s Mondrian Dress

Vogue Paris featuring Yves St. Laurent’s Mondrian Dress in September 1965 Issue (collection of the author)

A true innovation in both fashion and art, Yves St. Laurent’s revolutionary sack dress from 1965 incited the rapidly changing atmosphere of Western fashion in the 1960s. The dramatic shift from conservative 1950s style in effect began with this dress. While l’enfant terribles André Courrèges and Paco Rabanne began experimenting with silhouette and material a little before Yves St. Laurent, the embracement of forward-looking design by Christian Dior’s protégé made it very accessible to the (mostly young) masses. What truly makes this dress remarkable rests in the fact that St. Laurent did not simply transpose Mondrian’s compositions into an article of clothing; he used the content to dictate a new form, manipulating the wool jersey into contoured color blocking, hiding the seams in the black lines and developing a new silhouette from a great artist’s work.

Alexander Cavaluzzo

Alexander Cavaluzzo is a Pop Poet, Cultural Critic and Sartorial Scholar. He received his BS in Art History from FIT and his MA in Arts Politics at NYU. His interests focus on the intersection of fashion,...

5 replies on “The Five Best Crossovers of Art and Fashion”

  1. Keith Haring’s work has been popular in fashion as well and its surprising not to see any examples here. I’m not the hugest Haring fan, but he did some amazing things to clothing on his own. Some of his finished hand painted pieces are striking. Just intrigued that he didn’t make the list.

    1. Notably, Vivienne Westwood enlisted Haring to paint on the clothes of her “Witches” collection in the ’80s. And, naturally, I mentioned in a previous post that a designer has taken Haring’s work and transformed them into shoes. I guess I just wanted to highlight other artists and designers, since I talk about Haring and Westwood frequently. But, you know, there are tons of great crossovers.

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