In the midst of a world orientated by innovative design and a constant feeling of change; art is something that, arguably, stands the test of time. Whilst there are differing opinions on what is good art, in fact we most probably all have a different favourite piece of art or artist and that is the beauty of it. There are constantly new pieces and artists that are new and upcoming. Sounds pretty similar to fashion right? It’s a constant that we all buy into, there’s a yearning for art in all of us.
I suppose, that’s why sustainability, art and fashion all interweave so well. Art is a sustainable form; Monet did not paint his pieces for them to be discarded a few months late and as you can probably assume what I’m going to say; neither should fashion.
Last week I went to Mottisfont avec ma mére (bringing my renowned French into blog posts because my goal for the end of this academic year is to write a post in French) and had the pleasure of seeing the Kaffe Fassett exhibition. The exhibition celebrates the work of world-renowned artist Kaffe Fassett, this vibrant exhibition showcases a wide range of textiles from a career spanning over 50 years. Our gallery has been transformed with pools of vibrant colour, providing the perfect backdrop for Kaffe’s distinctive knitwear, tapestry, quilts and more.
It inspired this post because seeing the colour and creations that Kaffe has developed was so hugely inspiring and made me realise how fashion is as much an art form as it is of practical use to wear and to buy. It has a purpose but when you consider the form it should be curated and developed into something that you admire. Looking at fashion in this way has almost enforced my view that fashion should be sustainable because it is a form of art and art is a sustainable form. As a result that is my philosophy of fashion. Perhaps it is not the most the best philosophy, nor has it got a lot of evidence as to why fashion should be sustainable but I guess if you regard fashion as art you may think of fashion as less disposable. The exhibit opened my eyes as to the power that both forms have, so many people were looking at Fassett’s work with such admiration. This including tapestry and needlework but it also including the knitting of jumpers and jackets, fashion garments one would usually take for granted.
Shouldn’t fashion be regarded as art? As people walked past the garments they admired the work that had been put in, the artistry; but isn’t that in every piece of clothing we wear? Once you see the work that goes into a piece that’s in an exhibition and is taken as art and then you see the same garment in a shop for a distinctly cheaper amount of money – it doesn’t mean a lot less effort has been put in and that’s one of the issues with fast fashion.
Although, there are distinct differences between high-street fashion and pieces that have adorned the catwalk. To put them in the same category and quantify them both as ‘art’ would be perhaps too far fetched but I think sustainable and ethical fashion is in a category of its own. It’s beautiful in the way it is better for the environment, it isn’t extortionately priced yet like avant-garde, designer garments and it holds meaning.
The replicants and dupes of catwalk pieces that the consumer buys in order to replace the ephemeral pieces that walk designer shows are where art and fashion part ways. Mass made and mass produced, fast fashion loses the beauty that high-end designers perhaps have. It loses its reverence in order to appeal to the mass public. There is a difference but I think that is where ethical fashion is art. It has meaning, is accessible and has a purpose.
Maybe, fashion is not a form of art explicitly but maybe some forms are.
Do you think that fashion should perhaps be regarded as art? If yes, why? If no, why not? This exhibit has really made me think about the way in which I view fashion and has further cemented my view that if we do regard art so highly why not fashion? It is not something to be disposable and although it may have a slightly different purpose (i.e. to wear). I think further still you cannot but fashion as a whole into the ‘art’ category because there are so many different types. Fast fashion? Maybe not? Ethical fashion? Maybe. Designer fashion? That’s up to the individual.
I would love to know your thoughts on the topic.
lots of love, eleanor xx