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When fashion becomes an artistic gesture

November 15 2017

Haute couture is a laboratory of ideas where fashion would have the leisure to reinvent itself. She does it sometimes when she finds herself on the edge of artistic creation and shows become performances. - Isabelle Cerboneschi

IRIS VAN HERPEN (click to read)

Ten years ago, the Dutch artist Iris Van Herpen took us into another world, an experimental, radical sewing where science and architecture, technology and poetry intermingled. Ten years later, she continues to enchant us with her parades-performances and her incredible know-how.

With her last collection, she gave to see the invisible, expressing in clothes the sound and aquatic waves. His robes seemed to be both in total harmony with the bodies that wore them and moved with independent energy. They vibrated to the sound of the aquatic music of the Danish band Between Music, immersed in caissons filled with water, and resounded like the song of the whales.

To look at one's clothes was like living a synesthetic experience, a state where all the senses mix: touch, sight, and hearing. The forms calling the noises, which call the thoughts, the feelings, the words ... Deeply disturbing.

VIKTOR & ROLF (click to read)

Viktor & Rolf's haute couture shows are often confusing. We never know where their research will have taken them: to a Zen meditation, the destruction and reconstruction of a large part of their archives, giant dolls, dresses that become living pictures? "For two seasons we have been claiming our status as fashion artists," explained Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoerren in an interview with 2016. And since they no longer create ready-to-wear, they can indulge in extreme experiences and try to push the boundaries between one universe and the other.

Following their parade, in its July 10 edition, the Woman's Wear Daily raised the fact that this parade had points in common with the research of Terrence Zhou, a student from Parsons and Central Saint Martins who had applied as a trainee at home but whose application had not been successful. The controversy was born on the Instagram account of the student.

Yes, the Action Dolls Viktor & Rolf, with their big heads, are reminiscent of those of Terrence Zhou. But oIt is far from servile copy as it is practiced in fast fashion retailers. This is not the first time that Viktor & Rolf have staged dolls, since their famous Russian dolls of 1999. On the other hand, the two collections (and the intention behind them) have nothing to do with each other. The purpose of the student was a reflection on cosmetic surgery. That of Viktor & Rolf touches the metamorphosis of the garment itself. We discover a progressive wardrobe, trenches, transformable clothes that change their meaning depending on whether they are worn by models with a doll's head or without, Doc Martens on the feet. A highly desirable collection. But this controversy has the merit of raising the question of the creative process: where do the ideas come from? What process of transformation is activated in the minds of creators who are inspired by all that surrounds them?

STÉPHANE ROLLAND (click to read)

Sequence emotion. To celebrate the 10 years of his fashion house, Stéphane Rolland asked the mezzo soprano Beatrice Uria Monzon, to accompany with her voice the models wearing her architectured dresses (he dreamed of being an architect.)

They marched, hieratic, in pieces that summarize each the style of the designer: at the same time rigor and emphasis, geometry and asymmetry, some sculptural flights, and a palette of colors reduced to the essential: white , black, gold, with just a touch of red. Haute couture and Puccini have come together for the best.

FRANCK SORBIER (click to read)

Just before the show (it's never really a parade at Franck Sorbier), Isabelle Tartière, his wife, his muse, the one who paints on silk as if it were a canvas, announces me that "The collection is a happy junk ". A bric-a-brac of a mastery and a crazy poetry, between this whirling dervish harnessed like a crazy clock dancing to the rhythms of Creative Percussion and this poem of Prévert To do a bird's portrait said by actress Ophelia Kolb.

And during that time, little girls dressed in dream-colored dresses, dreams of children necessarily, formed an enchanted round. Dance, music, poetry, painting, emotion, we are always a little elsewhere at Franck Sorbier.


fashion and art are like two magnets approaching, attracting, uniting, or repulsing each other, according to the epoch. Fashion designers and creators have often used artists to co-create collections. The most active was definitely Elsa Schiaparelli. She worked with Jean Cocteau, Alberto Giacometti, Leonor Fini, or Salvador Dali who had painted a crayfish on a white silk dress in 1937. Named the "Lobster Dress", this piece has become a reference in the history of fashion.

Yves Saint Laurent, too, knew how to appropriate the works of the masters - Van Gogh in mind - and transform them into living tableaux. The most successful example is the Mondrian dress he created in 1965: an obvious fact since the pattern followed the function.

Karl Lagerfeld often also summoned artists to the podium, notably Kandinsky and Jawlensky, whose works he embroidered on dresses from the Chanel Haute Couture Spring / Summer collection 2003.

Artists, too, have become fashionable. In 1929, the New York department store Bonwit Teller invited Salvador Dali to decorate his shop windows. A first that was followed by many others. In 1955, it was the turn of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, both hidden under the pseudonym "Matson-Jones". In 1959 the guest was James Rosenquist and in 1961 the teacher called to Andy Warhol. For fifty years, Bonwit Teller became interested in the New York avant-garde long before art became fashionable. And this until in 1979, the sign is bought by Donald Trump. But despite some incursions, everyone remained in his world, continuing to exploit its own mode of expression.

However, it happens that the separation between a creative universe and the other is shrinking to the point that we do not know very well what we have to do: a work of art or a collection of haute couture? A parade or a performance? Difficult to describe, for example, the work of Iris Van Herpen as it is experimental and encompasses several techniques and processes, and occupies several fields of artistic expression. Last July, I was given the opportunity to experience some of these out of fashion moments, parentheses that enchant and carry away. A little fuel to feed the engine that drives dreams ...