Designers, as original as they are, acquire their ideas from somewhere. More often than expected, this inspiration comes from past art pieces. Artwork playing with concepts like Surrealism, Impressionism, and Cubism, among others, have sparked new designs for brands and filled the runway space for decades. The perspective of the designers who reform the art into the garments is keeping all the art history-inspired designs looking fresh with every new collection. Although some have used direct elements of the art pieces, some have simply captured a more abstract aesthetic but maintained the meaning or significance of the works. The following are some of the most iconic designer looks that entwined the art of the past to create modern collections:
1. Elsa Schiaparelli x Salvador Dali, 1938 Circus Collection
Known as the most famous painter of the Surrealism movement, Salvador Dali’s unorthodox aesthetic matched the style and vision of Elsa Schiaparelli who was inspired by Futurism, Surrealism, and Dada. The most successful collaboration between the two was for Schiaparelli’s 1938 Circus collection in the form of a dress referencing Dali’s painting, Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra. Schiaparelli wanted to play with the idea of revealing and concealing a body, or contrasting the concept of exposure and vulnerability through the dress and a tear design revealing pink fabric. The duo arranged various collaborations in order to create designs such as the 1937 Lobster Dress based on Dali’s Lobster Telephone, and the 1938 Skeleton Dress inspired by The Skeleton Woman.
2. Moschino x Pablo Picasso, 2020 Spring Collection
Moschino’s SS20 collection was completely and entirely inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso and the culture beyond his art. Moschino recreated the art of Picasso onto a wearable canvas with paintings such as Harlequin, Girl Before a Mirror, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, and Girl With a Mandolin. But apart from these recreations, the remainder of the collection was based on the Spanish culture supported by matador-style looks and music by Rosalia.
3. Vivienne Westwood x François Boucher: Portrait of Madame de Pompadour, 1990 Fall/Winter ‘Portrait’ Collection
Using the look of Madame de Pompadour, Vivienne Westwood transformed the concept of a crumpled, silk dress featured in the 1758 painting, Portrait of Madame de Pompadour. The designer is known for her references to the past throughout her collections beginning with her autumn/winter 1990 show and her Boucher Daphnis and Chloe-inspired t-shirts, dresses, and outerwear.
4. Alexander McQueen x Queen Elizabeth I: The Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, 2013 Fall Paris Fashion Week
In a collection full of detailed lace, ruffles, and jeweled garments, Alexander McQueen channeled the Queen of England and Ireland in the Autumn Winter 2013 Paris Fashion Week. The designs expressed an excess of Catholicism much like the era of Queen Elizabeth I and were divided into five groups: Communion, nuns, cardinals, popes, and angels. The Tudor-style looks characterized a modern sense of royalty and divinity through a black-and-white color palette decorated with intricate jewels, pearls, and lace plus accents of silver or gold.
5. Christian Dior x Claude Monet: A Path Through the Irises and The Artist’s Garden at Giverny, 1949 Spring/Summer Haute Couture Collection
Founded on the notion of Impressionism, Claude Monet is known for depicting natural landscapes within his paintings. Contrasting different shades between neutral or darker shades and brighter, more vivid tones, the artist captures the life of nature. Christian Dior attempts to capture the same energy with his 1949 spring/summer Haute Couture collection through embroidered pink and violet flower petals for the Miss Dior gown. Dior integrated Monet’s color scheme and floral pattern into his designs.
6. Alexander McQueen x Gustav Klimt: Portrait of Adele and Fulfillment, 2013 Resort Collection and 2013 Spring Collection
Founder of the Vienna Secession movement that marked art history in the 20th century, Gustav Klimt was an Austrian painter who had a strong handle on the concept of symbolism in her artwork. With the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I and Fulfillment, Alexander McQueen took inspiration from the art pieces in the form of the artist’s abstract, geometric, and mosaic patterns combined with gold and bronze tones to incorporate into his designs. This inspiration came to life in Alexander McQueen’s resort 2013 collection and his SS13 runway show.
7. Valentino x Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights, 2017 Spring Collection
Influenced by the religious artwork and its purpose of highlighting The Garden of Earthly Delights as an emblem of sin. Valentino’s goal with its Spring 2017 collection was to connect the punk culture of the late 70s with medieval art and humanism. With that idea in mind, designs were created involving Bosch’s art through sheer, embroidered, and romantic gowns while the colors were the main aspect that linked the artwork to the Valentino collection.
8. Yves Saint Laurent x Henry Matisse: La Blouse Romaine, 1981 Fall/Winter Collection
In 1981, YSL brought Matisse’s blouse from La Blouse Romaine to life and onto the catwalk. Staying true to the original painting, Yves Saint Laurent adopted the same colors and pattern of the blouse that is depicted in the artwork. The Romanian design sparked interest not only on the YSL runway but throughout the world of fashion.
9. Dolce & Gabbana x Peter Paul Rubens: Portrait of Anne of Austria, 2012 Fall/Winter Collection
With the goal of accentuating the role of sensuality and romance of female beauty, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana found inspiration in the art of Peter Paul Rubens. Similar to the body types depicted by Rubens, Dolce & Gabbana featured curvy models in their Fall/Winter 2020 campaign to go against the typical discrimination of various body types within the fashion industry. The designer’s Fall 2012 women’s collection also included many aspects of Italian Baroque architecture. Using The Portrait of Anne of Austria, Dolce & Gabbana based the designs on corresponding colors and styles of Spanish royal fashion, donning gold accents, green embroidery, ruffled lace, and bell-shaped sleeves.
10. Christian Dior x Katsushika Hokusai: The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, 2007 Spring Couture Collection
The design inspired by Hokusai's The Great Wave Off Kanagawa debuted in Dior’s Haute Couture SS07 show within the overall theme of Japanese geisha culture. The dress mimicked the same iconic wave pattern of the painting complemented by an empire-line silhouette, dramatic collar, and bell sleeves. Alongside the wave print, other looks in the collection involved origami, Japanese fans, kimonos, bamboo, and other symbols based on the culture.
Design Your Way to the Runway with IMM
Like the big-name designers showcasing their art and history-inspired collections, students at Istituto Marangoni Miami can incorporate their own inspirations into their designs through fashion design classes. Regardless of age, the fashion design courses are available as an associate of applied science, bachelor of fine arts, or through our vocational one-year program to help you flourish all of your extravagant ideas. Students are able to show off their skills and express themselves to well-known designers and brands for a chance to work alongside the best of the industry and even have the opportunity to see their garments produced. With a variety of partnerships, no idea is too big at The Miami School of Fashion.
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