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Fashion is wearable art

All photos by Paisley Spence


Fashion is art. It is an art with form and utilitarian value; righteously entitled to the same pedestal as any other art form.The history of the relationship between art and fashion extends long ago, well before the Renaissance. The association is evident in pictures and paintings.

But is fashion art? It is the question that has been a subject of debate since time out of mind. The pundits of fashion, and art from different generations, put forward varying interpretations of where and how the two come


Elsa Schiaparelli, one of the leading names in the fashion world between the two World Wars and the greatest rival of Coco Chanel, deemed fashion design not as “a profession, but an art” in her autobiography “Shocking Life.”

Illustrator Andy Warhol, the leading artist of pop art proved that fashion and art can exist together by using both avant-garde and highly commercial sensibilities. Warhol compared department stores to museums.

While, Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, calls fashion, “The bastard child of capitalism and female vanity.”

The stance is clearly echoed in fashion designer and creative director for Chanel and Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld’s statement: “Art is art. Fashion is fashion.”

Likewise, many prominent fashion designers of the industry reject to elevate fashion to the same platform as fine art. Fashion has and still continues to struggle to gain that status among the arts.

In recent years, the dynamics of art and fashion worlds have changed, and still continue to be revolutionized more than ever before.

Growing numbers of artists and designers are exploring one another’s territory; distinctions between the two in the traditional sense have become almost nonexistent.

Art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power,” according to the Oxford Dictionary.

12771541_977360622340480_6123366086553222936_oDisregarding the assumptions the experts established, in my own view, fashion most definitely is an art.

Although fashion is not framed on the wall or in a museum, though sometimes it is in a museum (for example The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art collection has more than 35 thousand costumes and accessories from the 15th century to present day), how one dresses and accessorizes is an extension of personal expression.

Fashion designers, the creative directors who design the clothes are making art out of cloth.

They put unique individual garments together, complementary of each other and create something visually wonderful that people can also wear. And that to me is art.

At a more individual level, no two people will wear the same dress to express similar inner self, or exhibit the same outer flair. Each individual will make it his or her own, either by accessorizing it differently, wearing it differently or just feel like a uniquely individual body type.

Fashion accomplishes all the same things as art, but with the added advantage to fulfill a functional need.

Art is not just what you find hanging in a museum, or pieces that are framed. It is all around us. Art is what we wake up to everyday!








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