Fashion Croquis

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fashion croquis

When does a fashion figure become an art piece?

Some say ‘yes’, others pipe in with a resounding ‘no’. Clothing that is draped over the fashion figure often resembles a jumble of ideas, a pattern of colours that degenerates into basic form with only the mere hint of what should resemble a skirt or perhaps a decent pair of pants. The designer cuts their cloth with the skill and dexterity of a sculptor and assembles colour and texture with the wit and style of a painter. Their clay is the smooth fabric that glides under their fingertips, their paints, the swatches of fabric that is air-delivered to them on a private jet. Not everyone agrees, as for every positive vantage point there must always be a lone voice in the darkness.

Some say no:

Fashion is fashion, as many of the hurried designers would say as they work off their fashion croquis to complete a rush order. A beautiful dress, resplendent with the intricate work of a senior designer, appears as if it should indeed hang on a wall, framed by a gilded bracket that proclaims its status of high-art appeal. Beauty is a by-product of the fashion designer’s quest to achieve an immaculate concept. Fashion silhouettes hang precariously on the wall of the aspirant designer before they are plucked and thusly borne forth from their pearlescent imaginations. The attributes of fashion design differ greatly from traditional art, as they have a different emotional appeal, a different desire to fulfil.

Art has a beauty that cannot be imitated in fashion, a complicated and chaotic role that muses on the peculiarities of our contemporary lives. Fashion however, is an ebbing tide that flows against the needs and wants of a hungry, decadent culture. Through the centuries, fashion has remained on the very pulse of change, formatting itself again and again; adapting, shifting, never remaining stable. Art is also impractical. As any fashion figure designer would point out, their creations are practical, they can be worn until love or time has turned them into scraps of fabric.

Others say yes:

Fashion, for some is an art, albeit a practical one that is as much a part of our art galleries as it is a part of our closets. If anything, designers are directly influenced by the fine art on display in some of the more prestigious galleries that dot our globe. From New York to Milan, top designers draw inspiration from their surroundings, including the stately art galleries that contain eye-popping sketches, sculptures, installations and paintings. Many period clothes are also in display in museums, further cementing their status as important pieces that should be revered as highly as art itself.

The media has now accepted fashion’s particular stance as a cultural force, for these are designs with relevant, cultural influences that appear in film, print, theatre and many other forms of entertainment. Does academia recognise fashion as a respected art form? For this to occur, the act of purchasing clothing needs to be seen as an art itself, as if one is buying a million dollar sculpture. In turn, top designers have experimented in the world of ‘pro-bono’ design and are attempting to create fashion without the interference of money or stylistic endeavour. It is upon these grounds that the artistic status of the fashion figure will be decided, yet this is a perceived notion that will take many decades to mature from larvae to idea.

About the Author

Bianca Novell gives classes in figure drawing for fashion design students. She recently had an exhibition of her own fashion silhouettes at a prominent New York art gallery.

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