Harvey Nichols recently celebrated the “Art of style” in a campaign that highlighted the important relationship between fashion and art. Many times, the two intertwine to create masterpieces and creative showpieces. Look at the iconic collections from the past and even the more recent shows and you’ll see undeniable inspirations from the art world. Whether it’s fashion designers, make up artists, photographers or stylists art is always influencing the techniques and designs used by those in the fashion industry.
Entering the ever so glamorous venue we were immediately greeted by the welcoming staff of Harvey Nichols, from whom we were offered some divine raspberry cocktails (and ever so accommodating mocktails), tasty miniature sandwiches as well as mouth watering cheesecakes. Encouraged to roam around we were fascinated with the numerous designer collections; from Gucci to Victoria Beckham that surrounded us and left us lusting for the sought after pieces that came to life in front of our very eyes, a welcoming change from the glossy images in the magazines we routinely peruse. The stage was set and seats were taken.
The presentation was hosted by Jennifer Lee O Brien, the journalist form The City Talking, who was sporting an eclectic outfit completed with some silver star adorned platform trainers. Soon we were introduced to the women of the hour. Two individuals who are very well equipped and accustomed to the worlds of both fashion and art. The mastermind behind the gorgeous bohemian and glamorous outfits worn by singing phenomenon Florence Welch and winner of the MTV Video Music Award Aldene Johnson, as well as set and costume designer and art curator, co-owner and director of the amazingly cultivated gallery at Munro House Ellie Andrews.
Aldene in cream silk blouse mixed with vintage market pieces, Ellie in Roland Mouret
For centuries the worlds of art and fashion have been intertwined; Prada employed six graffiti artists for their SS14 collection, Rodarte took influence from Van Gogh for SS12 and Louis Vuitton’s Murakami inspired accessories, to Andy Warhol’s paintings of Yves Saint Laurent in 1974 and Vanessa Beecroft’s incredibly visual work with Helmut Lang in 2002, not to forget Karl Lagerfeld’s portraits,“Fire Etchings” for St. Mortiz’s Galerie Gmurzynska. Taking note form Warhol, Andrews emphasised the influence of pop art on the fashion movement, recalling Yves Saint Laurent’s dresses emblazoned with Warhol inspired prints. Personal stylist Johnson recounted the Schiaparelli and Dali collusion from the early 30’s, which resulted in the legendary, outrageous ‘White Organza Dress with the Painted Lobster’. In fact, Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli herself maintained, “dress deign is to me not a profession but an art”. Meanwhile, Andrews also reflected on the Alexander McQueen SS 1999 show where two mechanical robots spray painted what turned out to be beautiful, futuristic prints onto dresses. McQueen stated at the end of his show how he was inspired by “an installation by artist Rebecca Horn of two shotguns firing blood-red paint at each other.”
L-R: Dali X Schiaparelli, Alexander McQueen SS1999, YSL the Pop Art 1966
The significance of media and fashion working together was also stressed, with both Johnson and Andrews stating how fashion, film and theatre are “all encompassing”, Johnson describing Rodarte’s work on the tutus for Black Swan as memorable “sculptural pieces of art”.
With art often being so eccentric or abstract it can be difficult to implement these creative elements into everyday looks. The advice given by the experts was however extremely useful. Both experts emphasised confidence as being key and stressed that you do not always have to be elaborate to be creative, with Celine’s clean lines and cuts given as an example of a simple form. “Practicality of everyday means often bold accessories are better” suggested Andrews, whilst Johnson added, “the key is understanding yourself and what works for your body shape, then be playful and experiment.”
Delving deeper into the world and experiences of stylist and fashion consultant Johnson we heard many interesting anecdotes. Florence Welch; Johnson’s primary client inspired Frida Giannini on the Gucci A/W11 show with the designer describing the singer as, “a modern day icon with her cinematic allure and powerful presence”. In turn a 20 piece capsule collection that included capes and long bohemian inspired chiffon gowns was created for her tour. In a comedic narrative Johnson also revealed her work alongside Serbian designer Roksanda for the X Factor, recounting the struggles of a live televised show and a glamorous gown consisting of six chiffon trains, each attached to contemporary dancers. This was followed by a proud reminiscence of collaborating with Alexandra McQueen’s Sarah Burton for the BRITS 2012 performance; the first creation by the British designer after making the Duchess of York’s wedding dress.
L-R: Gucci created costumes for Florence, Florence performing on the X Factor in Roksanda, Florence wearing Alexander mcQueen at the BRIT’s.
We were also enlightened about the world of fashion showcases, as Andrews; the owner of the successful and incredibly exciting Munro Gallery that presents independent shows, helped stress the importance of fashion exhibitions. The Central St Martins College graduate and Illustrator stressed exhibitions to be “A celebration of the individual and what they do in a way not capable in magazine form” and a “way to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of the craftsmanship and history behind pieces of art.” At a time when the V&A’s Alexander McQueen exhibition has broken numerous records, fashion exhibitions are certainly on the rise of popularity and interest, “presenting people an understanding of aesthetics of fashion houses” as claimed by Johnson.
L-R:Munro Gallery, Exhibition
The presentation was intertwined with five extraordinarily styled looks- each curated by Johnson- demonstrating key trends for the AW season, with brief but easily applicable advice for the audience.
Gucci printed silk chiffon maxi dress, DKNY Ivory faux fur gilet, Stella McCartney Black chain embellished wool trilby, Saint Laurent black leather ankle boots, Alexander McQueen Mini mink heroine bag
Roksanda Valhalla neon pink gathered satin twill gown, YSL Tribute navy heels
Velentino Multi coloured coat, Stella McCartney black ribbed roll neck wool blend jumper, valentine ivory overlay silk chiffon blouse, Alexa Chung for AG Jeans Laura high waisted flares, Saint Laurent tribute blush leather sandals, Valentino rockstud mini black leather bag
Outfit 4 – Combination of knit and sheer as a stylish contrast. “Erdem takes watercolours as a big influence seen through his textiles”
Erdem madder roll neck wool blend gown, Saint Laurent black leather ankle boots
Sandro lurex rollneck. Make white blouse, Alexander McQueen tartan fared wool midi skirt, Sam Edelman belinda black fringed suede boots
A perfect harmony of stunning glamour, constructive advice and insightful education, with the addition of delicious canapés and drinks the event was a feast for the eyes, ears and mind.
*Read the short interview Gryphon Fashion had with Aldean Johnson on our Instagram account!*
Rukaiyah Dadhiwala and Emma McCormack
Images : Joe Gardner