When couture becomes abstract art

Over the centuries, clothing had been an incredible media through which humanity has expressed itself, its desires, and its opinions. Phrases like ‘statement piece’ literally suggest how we use our garments to interact with one another and get closer to our inner selves. Contemporary designers such as Iris Van Herpen, Noa Raviv, even Marc Jacobs, have reopened the field between fine art and fashion by becoming abstract artists themselves.

Alexander McQueen Fall 2016


Alena Akhamadullina Spring 2016


Marc Jacobs Spring 2016

Looking at these first three runway-worthy designs, there is a clear similarity between canvas and fabric.  Whether a Japanese print come to life, or a fauvist inspired embroidered gown, the boundary between fashion and art breaks as soon as the body moves. As artists, we like to think (in some circles at least) that paintings have a way of moving on a canvas, or that sculptures can contain energy through the way they are constructed. As a body moves, the image or pattern in the fabric becomes a dynamic visual display, particularly with these abstract patterns and dress shapes above.


3D-Printed Dress – Iris Van Herpen Fall 2014


Noa Raviv 2014 3D Printed Collection

Designers like Van Herpen and Raviv have literally translated abstract thoughts and designs into wearable forms, mainly for the sake of display, not utilitarian use. While Herpen’s piece above reminds me of pickled herring more than clothes, the form is an interesting interpretation of a roaring 20s flapper gown and a multiple unit sculpture made out of rubber forks. Raviv’s ‘defect’ designed pieces are beautiful as well as mathematically stimulating. He discusses space and movement in these 3D printed designs that are well taking time to look at.

As a NYC based artist, seeing bizarre clothing is no new thing. However, the harmony that comes through the union of art and fashion helps to inform and enrich both sides of the creative spectrum in new and innovative ways. It can only lead to more fun for the viewer… and wearer as well.