Thursday, March 7, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Stop Press! Fashion Influenced by Art! Yes, hardly headline news I understand. There's never a season goes by without several major collections which are inspired by a certain artist or artistic movement. Remember the AW12 Carven Hieronymus Bosch skirts and dresses which dominated street style blogs for a months last year? Or Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos's continued obsession with the paintings in Siena's cathedral? While we won't get into the debate of whether fashion is art right now but there's no question that art inspires fashion and very often looks darned good translated from canvas to garment.

This season, a selection of Paris's finest turned to kinds of refined portraiture which hangs in the National Gallery for their mood boards. In the case of Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton, who's just had twins, it was allegedly the attire of popes and cardinals which set her off for AW13. Lots of us were a bit confused by this because what we saw were stunningly crafted re-imaginings of gowns we are used to seeing Elizabeth I wearing in the paintings, such as Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger's The Ditchley Portrait, which are our only visual connection to England's Tudor Queen. As several tweeters astutely pointed out, this is the kind of thing we'd love Kate Middleton to wear for her eventual coronation. Whatever the papal connection, there wasn't a mitre in sight.

Alexander McQueen AW13

Queen Elizabeth I- The Ditchley Portrait (Image via

More straightforwardly, Phoebe Philo at Celine and Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli's both cited great historical portraitists in their notes. Philo produced a book of inspiration which was re-produced for each of the show's attendees. There were numerous and varied references, from images of shapely bottoms to modern art. For our purposes, the Arnolfini Wedding by Jack van Eyck is important. While the designs on the catwalk looked completely modern, the colours and dress made entirely from mink could be directly linked to this image.

Celine AW13

Arnolfini Wedding, Jack van Eyck (image via

Phoebe Philo's inspiration book (image via Business of Fashion)

To Valentino, where the designers loved intense studies like Jan Vermeer's  The Girl With a Pearl Earring. They told,  "We wanted to capture women in a private moment... In this show, the face is very important". Indeed, it is striking to look at the line-up of looks as you see it on and see that each model's hair is plaited and draped across her left shoulder. It's like lots of little walking portraits. And they're all dressed in dreamily pretty, demure dresses, cut either as sweet, short tunics or 17th century long.

Valentino AW13 

The Girl with the Pearl  Earring (via

No comments:

Post a Comment