From Gucci to Louboutin: 12 times fashion designers turned to art for inspiration

From Gucci to Louboutin: 12 times fashion designers turned to art for inspiration

The long-standing love affair between art and fashion has definitely come a long way and has helped designers create many iconic designs. As rightly put by artist Andy Warhol, " Fashion is more art than art is."

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Gucci’s Spring Summer 2018 collection as illustrated by Ignasi Monreal. (Source: Gucci/Facebook)

The long-standing love affair between art and fashion has definitely come a long way and has helped designers create many iconic designs. As rightly put by artist Andy Warhol, “Fashion is more art than art is.” Designers have forever been fascinated by the wonders of art, and many a time, have even incorporated famous artworks in their designs or given them a contemporary twist.

Not only are the lines between art and fashion blurred, the juxtaposition of the two creates a beautiful synergy, and more brands seem to be giving it a try in recent times.

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Long ago in 1937, Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli looked up to artist Salvador Dali to create some of her best works like the Lobster Dress, Tears Dress and Shoe Hat.


Even before that, Hermès’ designer Lola Prusac recreated Dutch painter Piet Mondrian’s black-and-white geometry style into colourful patterns in his luggage and handbag collections. Later, in 1965, designer Yves Saint Laurent took inspiration from Mondrian for his Fall Collection.

Alexander McQueen’s 1999 Spring Summer collection featured American painter Jackson Pollock’s abstract style in one of her white cotton dress.

Moving on, in 2005, French designer duo Marithé and François Gribaud went back to Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic Last Supper to create their collection and added a very modern touch to it. Instead of the Biblical characters, he replaced them with female models. But they kept John the Apostle that was played by a man sitting on a woman’s lap with his torso bare and jeans riding low.

This created an uproar among the public, who demanded the image be removed from the walls of Paris and New York. The duo defended their work saying, “Modern society has enabled women to achieve sexual equality with men only by sacrificing their femininity. This advertisement’s interpretation of Leonardo’s painting does not trivialise the sacred, but rather creates a new perception of femininity by presenting men, instead of women, in a position of fragility.”

Shoe mogul Christian Louboutin got his motivation from the Renaissance period for his Fall 2011 campaign. Drawing inspiration from the famous women of that era, he gave his designs a contemporary touch. Georges De La Tour’s ‘Magdalene and the Flame’, which portrayed a lady looking at a flickering candle, was replaced with a beautiful shoe.

He also recreated Jean-Marc Nattier’s ‘Marquise D’Antin’ that had a Victorian woman wearing a bustle dress and holding a bird on one of her fingers. The designer added a leopard print clutch to the painting so flawlessly that it seemed it had always been a part of the painting. That year, Jimmy Choo and artist Rob Pruitt created a series of animal printed and crystallised collection of shoes.

In 2013, McQueen’s designer Sarah Burton collaborated with British artist Damien Hirst and created a collection of colourful prints featuring butterflies, spiders and insects. The inspiration came from Hirst’s Entomology series.

For Valentino’s fall 2017 menswear collection, creative director Pierpaolo Piccoli collaborated with artist Jamie Reid and coined phrases like “Beauty Is a Birthright: Reclaim Your Heritage”, which appeared on their range of sweaters and accessories.

Looking at such collaborations in recent times, for Sonia Rykiel Fall 2017 collection, Julie de Libran got his inspiration from artist Niki de Saint Phalle’s series of paintings titled ‘Les nanas aux pouvoir’. Libran used his vibrant and bold style and incorporated a similar colour palette in his designs.

The same year, English painter George Stubbs’s 1770 painting ‘A Horse Frightened by a Lion’ saw itself printed on Stella McCartney gown, shirt and even trousers.

Louis Vuitton created a signature bag collection inspired by Da Vinci’s painting of Mona Lisa. They also looked up to artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Rubens and Titian.

For Gucci’s SS’18 collection, creative director Alessandro Michele hired Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal, who produced digital paintings from the Renaissance era. Taking inspiration from the Old Masters, Monreal portrayed Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, wherein he illustrated a story from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, depicting her floating away in a stream before being drowned by the heavy weight of her dress.


Do you feel the concoction of art and fashion can create a mesmerising collection? Share your thoughts in the comments below.