Legendary Artists and the Clothes They Wore

Image of Legendary Artists and the Clothes They Wore
Release Date: 
May 14, 2019
Harper Design
Reviewed by: 

For as long as fashion has been recorded, there has always been one topic that is ever present and it is whether or not fashion is an art. This reviewer wants to clearly make a distinction to the future reader that fashion and style are two entities that are inextricably linked, and yet they are worlds apart when it comes to definition.

"I’m a designer, I do photos, I do books, I’m a publisher, but I don’t have the self-proclaimed label ‘artist.’ I hate that. Very pretentious. If other people say it, it’s very flattering, but if you start to say it yourself, you better forget about it," said the late Karl Lagerfeld in 2015.

Legendary Artists and the Clothes They Wore is an extremely informative and insightful book about how and why many artists present themselves to the world and why they dress as they do. In some cases you will read how the artist’s sartorial choices are a reflection of their work or possibly how their work has influenced how they dress. No matter which perspective you ascribe to, it would be safe to say that few artists have actually influenced the world of fashion.

“An artist’s story can be told through the clothes they have worn. René Magritte’s hats, Cecil Beaton’s suits, or Richard Avedon’s glasses all convey very characteristic hints of their personae.”

Yes, there are designers who have collaborated with artists or found inspiration from a particular artist but in the broadest sense barely a single artist can be given credit to holding sway over fashion in any way. Artists’ influences, inspirations, and collaborations are highly individual and particular. The prospective reader will see that in fact there are very few artists that have actually created a stir in the world of fashion; think Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Yayoi Kusama.

Marc Jacobs said, "Fashion is not art."

Each chapter offers the reader insight into the personal style of each artist. Many have particular designers that they favor and many have created their own look by combining elements of various fashion designers to create a signature style image for themselves. Each artist is almost idiosyncratic in their choices and their rationale.

“Artists are intuitive and original; they can’t help but be themselves. Studying their wardrobes is a way to understand what makes them tick.”

The conclusion drawn in the end is that this is a book about artists and whether or not they may have influenced a designer or how a designer was influenced by them. No matter which way you see it, this book is about personal style much more than it is about fashion, but Legendary Artists and the Clothes They Wore takes the reader and directs them to an alternate vantage point of seeing fashion apart from our usual mindset.