Is Fashion an artform?

The past week has seen the city turn fashion-crazy; with catwalks in cinemas at Patrick Mohr, and runways in ice-rinks at Hugo Boss. The drama and the composition of the show seems to be almost as important as the designs themsleves – in some ways, just like a collection in an art gallery. I thought about the similarity that this had with the wide array of art exhibitions that Berlin is famous for, and the idea that in both fashion and in fine art, trends emerge, critics review, audiences gasp, and the designers/artists hope to gain reconigtion. But somehow, fashion and art, in Berlin at least, seem quite distinct from each other. Is fashion worthy of being called an artform?

Hugo Boss Spring/Summer 2013 definitely seemed to me like an art collection: icy metallic figures strutting down a frosty walk-way, seeming both from the future and the past at the same time. Each model, each outfit, could easily have been a painting or a sculpture or a piece of film in a gallery – it was not about clothes, I thought; it was about what the designer wanted to say – it was an artistic statement.

On the other hand, I thought about what Oscar Wilde once said; “We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.” Perhaps there is something sacred about art, something innately useless about it that cannot be conveyed through something as practical as clothing – even if most fashion is very impractical indeed!


Blog entry by Leanne McClean , photos by Jessica Barthel in Berlin; Monday, July 9, 2012.

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