You’ve seen many times photographs of models wearing unique attire that you don’t see people wearing on normal days. The fashion world labels these subtle and sometimes abstruse clothing as artwear. Here’s everything you need to know about artwear!
Defining artwear, also known as wearable art, isn’t as simple as it seems. This exceedingly personal outfit is always made by hand, and it conforms to no specific aesthetic criterion. It comes in different variations and is created by employing various techniques, including sewing, knitting, dyeing, leather tooling, tooling, and many others. Although, it’s separate from mainstream fashion, yet it’s related to it. But it’s about extravagance and beauty, rather than comfort, or functionality.
On what occasions should you put on artwear? Well, wearable art is usually seen at art and fashion exhibitions, but one can wear it to express its individuality and to give a voice to the distinctive features of their personality. Since it’s a product that depicts creativity, craftsmanship, fantasy, and artistic vision, it can be worn anytime and anywhere but in the presence of an appropriate audience.
Sometimes, artwear is used to pay homage to a person, or mark a historic event, or celebrate an achievement. For example, in 1951, renowned artist Henri Matisse designed and made the ‘Rosaire de Vence Chapel’ to pay tribute to his nurse, Monique. The nurse, besides looking after the artist during his fight against cancer, also posed for many paintings and drawings Matisse created over time. To acknowledge the splendid services of his nurse, Matisse designed a series of chasubles – the outermost garment worn by Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican priests to celebrate the Mass. Priests still wear Matisse’s created chasubles today during Eucharist.
The artwear movement began in the late 1960s, flourished during the 1970s, and is still going strong in the mid-2000s. Wearable art blossomed at the tail end of the turbulent 1960s, and this is no coincidence. The decade’s cultural, social, and political uprisings offered a critical foundation for art to wear fashion to express individuality and exploring new ways and ornaments for body adornment.
However, the history of artwear can be traced down to 1848, when Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood – comprising Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt – made a joint effort to create unique dresses. Inspired by Medieval art, the Brotherhood offered alternative clothing for women and encouraged them to put them on instead of the Victorian-style bell-shaped dresses.
Other developments the fashion world witnessed during the nineteenth century were the alternative clothing created by William Morris. The artist got inspiration from the art of the middle ages and created simple yet attractive attire. Eastern art also dominated the aesthetic dress designing in the late nineteenth century
Up till 1920, clothing had become a medium for poets, writers, feminists, socialists, philosophers, and visuals artists to express their ideas on life, but in the early twentieth century, the public, especially Europeans belonging to the elite and upper-middle-class, started accepting wearable art. In fact, unconventional dresses were considered to be a symbol of distinction, while the wearer was taken as an intellectual or progressive thinker having a unique taste for clothing. People started admiring artwear and alternative clothing became a point of discussion within the intellectual and artistic circles.
During the 1970s, San Francisco and New York City were the hubs of art to wear fashion where fine art was preferred over craftmanship. This decade marked the initiation and utilization of traditional dressmaking techniques in unorthodox ways. For example, storytelling was introduced in the textile fashion by employing classic techniques of weaving, leather tooling, sewing, dyeing, knitting, and painting.
Nina Vivian Huryn, Sharon Hedges, Janet Lipkin, and Norma Minkowitz are few names to mention from a long list of artists who introduce this genre of artwear
Artwear in the 1990s and early 2000s gained greater acceptance in mainstream textile fashion. With the advent of modern technologies, and the emergence of globalization, artwear got global recognition and people from every walk of life started wearing alternative clothes to highlight their personalities and to make their special occasions even more special.
Currently, wearable art has got a prominent position in mainstream fashion. The artwear is no more confined just to exhibitions and catwalks, but it has made its way to streets, ceremonies, and practical life. Now, it attracts a wider audience and a large portion of the textile business!
Originally artwear was nothing but an item of conceptual clothing. It was largely created and worn by artists that had been viewing it as an artistic instrument. At that time, it was worn on special occasions such as catwalks and art exhibitions.
However, wearable art has smoothly made its way to conceptual fashion. It is now wearable clothing having a commercial value. Previously, when artwear started getting business, it was created and sold for a specified market of artists and intellectuals. But in the contemporary world, artwear is very popular among general consumers, who love to buy and wear it.
Conclusion: VERYRARE and Art are indissociable. Plain and simply, artwear = art you can wear.