Art Fashion in the 21st Century

Image of Art/Fashion in the 21st Century
Release Date: 
October 8, 2013
Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by: 

Art/Fashion in the 21st Century is a bit misleading as a title because such collaborations actually began in the first half of the 20th century with Poiret and Schiaparelli. Be that as it may, the conundrum of whether or not fashion is art is dissected in this scholarly volume but without an end result. The discussion or question will continue for generations to come.

Mitchel Oakley Smith and Alison Kubler offer viewpoints from both designers and artists as well as from brands, curators, and media. There are the usual suspects such as Louis Vuitton and Prada who are heavily involved in the art/fashion collaborations and then there are the less memorable collaborations such as Stella McCartney with Jeff Koons and Marni with Gary Hume. Every season there is a new one, and every season there are some that are not worth discussing.

“The majority of collaborations are banal; they’re not thought out, they don’t expand the argument of art and fashion, and they are too simplistic. I don’t think fashion designers need to work with artists to elevate fashion because I really do think that fashion is an art form.”

—Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The book is by all means an extremely provocative and intellectual pursuit that renders a case as to why or why not fashion should be considered art and why artists have such an abiding propensity toward fashion. The book can be almost tedious in its discussion and yet depending on whose viewpoint we are reading it can also be wildly interesting.

“People often talk about what fashion sees in art, but what’s really interesting is what art sees in fashion.”

—Pamela Golbin, Musee de la Mode et du Textile, Les Arts Decoratif

For the seasoned fashionphile, the book will offer a deeper exploration of this enduring topic, and for the newbie this might prove a lot to digest in one book. The reader really must be somewhat knowledgeable in the contemporary art scene as well as in the current world of fashion.  

Art/Fashion in the 21st Century is a thinking person’s book. You will walk away enlightened and possibly even provoked into further examination.