Sometimes a lobster is just a lobster. In 1937, however, the crustacean became an intriguing case study in the complicated relationship between art and fashion. It all started when the Spanish surrealist, Salvador Dalí, and the legendary Italian fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli, teamed up to create a silk summer evening dress. The gown, which featured a print of an oversized lobster (his idea) that dangled down from the waist, clawed its way into cultural consciousness when the American socialite Wallis Simpson wore it for a photoshoot in Vogue magazine.
Sometimes that collision of sensibility is comical. However, sometimes it is also confrontational. Take Yves Saint Laurent’s famous adaptation, for a series of six day dresses that the French designer unveiled in 1965, of the Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian’s soulful grids. Though Saint Laurent insisted he was a great admirer of the “purity” he detected in Mondrian’s distinctively austere style, which is characterised by a simplicity of line and elegance of colour, his eagerness to commodify that aesthetic as a luxury garment, which was at odds with what the Dutch painter believed.
Today the collaboration between artists and the tastemakers of the fashion world has only accelerated. However, it must be noted that we are not only seeing the collaboration of artist and designer but art movements and heritage focused brands. This shift has allowed art and fashion to embraced ephemerality and the perishability of culture as an aesthetic element.
Brands such as GANT and its SS21 collection have done just this. Taking inspiration from the angular, geometric shapes found in Brutalist architecture and the boldly colored coastal-inspired garments from the brand’s archive, GANT has created a collection that unites fashion and art history. This SS21 the brand has reinvented the iconic preppy look from the 1980s and 1990s for today’s streets, showcasing a collection that hosts retro preppy heritage, think bucket hats, striped sports-inspired cardigans, and checked-trenches in bold primary hues and painterly pleated skirts in bright yellow, bold red, crisp white and jet black. The result? The seasonal collection paints the town in a bold palette!