Is Fashion Art?


Imagine someone buying a blouse because it “makes them think”, and then imagine someone appreciating a piece of art because it makes they’re hips look slimmer… ok those are silly examples. Still though, I don’t want my blouse to be intelectually stimulating, I just want girls to be jealous and boys to check me out. And I won’t buy an artwork because it brings out the color of my eyes, I just want to appreciate it because I don’t just see it, I’m looking at it and it’s stirring some kind of reaction in me that’s more than “Omg, I love it! I need to have this like now!”.

 The difference between good art and good fashion comes down to more than consumer attitude. Very different criteria is used to evaluate the worth of one and the other.

As someone who has studied Art History and Art Theory, I have learned to be cautious with the term “Art”. The term is too vague and too often redefined to be thrown around casually. I usually argue that Fashion is not Art, to the great dismay of my fashion-loving friends, colleagues and classmates. The reasons are simple enough. Fashion exists within a completely different market as Art and responds to a consumer demand. Art is progressive and challenges norms, whereas fashion usually caters to society and is (sadly) rather regressive in its tendency to imitate and recycle past movements.

“Great Artworks” usually posses qualities that make them transcend time, whereas Fashion has a life span of about six months. Of course, there are the occasional iconic fashion creations that survive the test of time, and become part of society’s cultural baggage. However, these icons remain creations that were meant for immediate use and consumption. A socialist Art History defines the Artwork as a cultural productions that exists within an economical structure. Art is also meant for consumption and artists could not have survived without wealthy patrons ready to financially support them and an institutional structure to protect them. Nevertheless, modern artists and art movements have revolutionized the purpose of artistic creation and have redefined it as something more than aesthetically pleasing. Contemporary artists have further pushed the envelope and Art’s value is now determined by its conceptual rather than aesthetic qualities.

I would describe a successful fashion designer as a great creative mind, a skillful craftsmen and a cultural practitioner with an acute cultural and aesthetic sensibility. Insofar as the criteria for “good art” that modern and contemporary art movements and art theory  have established in the past 100 years are considered, I wouldn’t describe the successful fashion designer as a “great artist”.  A simple way of putting things is that Art today has to be “food for thought”, a quality that fashion creations seldom possess. 

That is not to say that some designers haven’t transgressed the boundaries between Fashion and Art, and I will be posting about these exceptions and explaining why in my opinion, certain fashion creations have made “the cut” (no pun intended) and can be considered artworks. My point here is not to categorically declare that “Fashion is Not Art”, but simply to denounce the statement that “Fashion is Art” as too general and not justifiable by a few exceptions that exist in teh broadness of the fashion industry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: