Everything is influenced by something else. Whether it be music, design, writing, or food; creativity stems from being able to reinterpret something that was once old into a new existence. It is fascinating to observe design as a reoccurrence of a former art movement because it allows viewers an insight into the designers thought process. Why was this art movement chosen and what makes it relevant?
In the Fall of 2007, Valentino graced his audience with an impeccable Couture collection. Towards the end of the show, models began to emerge in swaths of pink. Not only was I immediately struck by the delicate femininity of these pieces, but by how much they resembled early Rococo Art.
The coloring and ruffles on this Valentino 2007 Couture gown are reminiscent of Fragonare’s “The Swing.”
Jean-Honore Fragonare’s “The Swing” depicts the femininity and frivolity of the Rococo Period.
If we take a look at an early painting from the Rococo period by Jean-Honore Fragonare we can see how etherial of a time this was. The woman is shown playfully swinging with her legs kicking as her shoes fly off. Her gown is most noticeably pink and trimmed in large ruffles. Quite similar to Valentino’s reinterpretation shown earlier. The Rococo time period was a time of frivolity of design. It is often “characterized by lightness, delicacy, and elaborate ornamentation” (Rococo Style). Natural forms were highlighted as well as a more pastel color scheme became prominent. Gone were the harsh and blatant, embraced were the delicate.
The final pieces of the Valentino 2007 Couture show are ornate, delicate and feminine.
Kirsten Dunst stars a Marie Antoinette in the 2006 movie. Costume design depicts Rococo perfection.
We also see the Rococo theme in modern day within movies such as the ornately styled Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst. Current brands also utilize this ultra-feminine movement for advertising purposes. Some of the most iconic of these in recent years include a Chanel spread featuring Cara Delevingne and the packaging of Too Faced Cosmetics.
Cara Delevingne is draped in pastel colors, a signature of the Rococo Period.
Ornate designs cover the Too Faced Cosmetics packaging, gold foliage and light pink are also reminiscent of Rococo design.
Many other brands have used art as a jumping off point for their collections. After having the opportunity to visit the Tate Modern “The World Goes Pop” exhibit, I now see references of pop art everywhere. Large art movements such as this one can be a catalyst for more important societal issues as well. What I found enlightening while browsing the art exhibit was how much pop art showcased not only consumption but feminism and an upheaval of war. Brands can use not only the visual aspects of the art movement to inspire their design but the underlying more powerful issues as well. I would love to see a design on the runways next season inspired by the painted flags by Gerard Fromanger, a painting evoking feelings of amazement, sadness and power.
Flags by Gerard Fromanger are powerful in their Pop Art design as well as their underlying political message.
One can see direct inspiration for the above Louis Vuitton campaign above compared to the Pop Art by Roy Lichtenstein pictured below. Not all inspiration has to be obvious, however some designers choose to embody a more literal approach.
So why is it that we see designers looking back onto art and artists looking towards fashion houses? Especially living in a global society, everything is within reach. Inspiration is everywhere; on your phone, the radio, in newspapers and in movies. The issue is wading through the influx of data to find the one piece that inspires an epochal collection. But when like minds are searching for influence, it is easy to glimpse at each other. The ideas are limitless and the potential for growth is monumental. Inspiration will never run dry as designers and artists alike continue to innovate.
In a quote by Coco Chanel, we are again reminded of the ease at which art and design imitate one another.