Fashion: The frock of the new

Fashion and art have always had a close - sometimes symbiotic - relationship. But when does the former become the latter? Tamsin Blanchard reports

The worlds of art and fashion have well and truly collided. The shock waves have been felt from Milan to Tokyo. Only last week, the fashion world was to be found seated on plinths around the empty exhibition space of the Hayward Gallery, watching Paul Smith's fashion show for spring- summer 1999. Smith is one of the few designers who does not have pretensions to be an artist. He is happy merely to let the whitewashed walls of a gallery rub off on his clothes, to add a little weight and seriousness to them. Tomorrow, however, the Hayward Gallery opens its doors to a new exhibition, Addressing the Twentieth Century - 100 Years of Art and Fashion.

The show begins its journey at the turn of the century, with Paul Poiret, who shared a taste for Orientalism and decoration with the painters Matisse and Dufy, as well as the creative director of the Ballets Russes. Along the way, the exhibition pays homage to Salvador Dali and the Surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, whose influence can still be seen today on designers as diverse as the milliner Philip Treacy and the Italian fashion house Moschino; and traces the link up to the present day when, it seems it is the fashion designers who lead the way, rather than the artists. It is no longer enough simply to design clothes. To have credibility and integrity, a designer has to make clothes either so weird and unwearable that they are called "art", or so conceptual that they are bought by galleries to be shown in glass cases. If all they want to do is sell clothes, they make commercial collections and open art "foundations", or sponsor art prizes.

The association with art and design rubs off on to the fashion label, while the fashion world can provide the necessary finance and glossy media attention to provide sponsorship for art exhibitions.

Last week at the designer shows in London, many of the offerings on the catwalks prompted the question: "Is it fashion or is it art?" Alexander McQueen's show included a live art happening with robot arms and spray- paint. Hussein Chalayan's conceptual show was a carefully choreographed one-off art piece, presented in an East End art gallery. Antonio Berardi's basketwork corset and skirt are like sculptures when taken off the body. And Antoni & Alison, who originally trained in textiles and fine art, used photography as the basis of their printed accessories and clothing, which are as much art as fashion.

As the Hayward's exhibition points out, the relationship between fashion designers and artists is nothing new. But during this decade the snobbery that for so long has kept the two worlds at paintbrush length from each other has been slowly ebbing away. We now have the annual Hugo Boss contemporary art and sculpture prize, sponsored by the German suit company. Then there is the Prada foundation, Miuccia Prada's contribution to the art world in the form of a gallery space that features two exhibitions a year. The next show, to open in November, is a one-woman show by the British artist Sam Taylor-Wood.

And, of course, when Mrs Prada decided to host a dinner for her British friends in London earlier this year, she did so at Damien Hirst's trendy restaurant.

Superficially, at least, it seems that fashion and art, cannot live without each other. Another designer who has long cultivated a relationship with the art world is Issey Miyake. While he has several pieces in Addressing the Twentieth Century, the Japanese designer is hosting his own exhibition, Issey Miyake Making Things, in Paris at the Cartier Foundation from 13 October until 17 January. It celebrates the designer's work over the past 10 years. Included in the installations is "Jumping", a sequence of 25 dresses that dance on their own; pieces by Miyake's four guest artists, who have each used the designer's "Pleats Please" collection of tops, skirts and trousers as limited-edition canvases for their work; and a reflection on clothes for the 21st century, using clothes recycled by Miyake. Next season sees the last guest artist in the series: Cai Guo- Qiang is a Chinese conceptual artist who works with gunpowder and controlled explosions.

Also included in the Hayward show is work by Comme des Garcons. The label's designer, Rei Kawakubo, uses clothes to push the boundaries of the body and our perceptions of it. For spring-summer 1997, she gave her clothes growths and lumps and bumps that made the wearer look deformed.

On the catwalk, they were seen as weird and warped. But in the Hayward they can be viewed as sculpture. Perhaps Kawakubo may be better understood as an artist than as a fashion designer. If you would like to see more proof, her costumes can also be seen this week at the Barbican. Her padded clothing sculptures are worn by the dancers performing Merce Cunningham's Scenario, in a true pairing of art and fashion.

`Addressing the Twentieth Century: 100 Years of Art and Fashion', 8 Oct-11 Jan 1999 at the Hayward Gallery; tickets pounds 6. `Issey Miyake Making Things', 13 Oct-17 Jan 1999 at Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, 261 Boulevard Raspail, 74014 Paris. Prada Foundation, Via Spartaco 8, Milan. Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Barbican Theatre, Silk Street, London EC2, 0171-638 8891

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
Arts and Entertainment

Grace Dent on TV

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us