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When Fashion Follows Fine Art

Today’s post comes from Samuel Blanchard, class of 2018 and Art Center Student Docent. 

Stephanie Muir ’15 with Alexander Calder’s Mobile

America’s commercial fashion industry is amidst a love affair with fine art. Popular stores such as H&M and Urban Outfitters sell Van Gogh-inspired “Starry Night” leggings and Warhol-evoking printed tanks. Fashion editorials from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar have styled models after subjects in famous artworks, such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring or one of Lichtenstein’s distressed females. To say the least, it is trendy to don threads that mirror what is on the wall.

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Jackson Teague ’15 with Lousie Nevelson’s Dawn’s Wedding Feast Columns

And leave it to Vassar’s very own student fashion publication, Contrast, and the FLLAC Student Advisory Committee, a group of students dedicated to engaging the Vassar community with the Art Center, to bring these trends to the galleries in “Embodied,” an event hosted on November 13. In their fourth annual fashion show, they explored the Art Center’s collection through students’ own wardrobes as well as with borrowed items from The Bearded Lady shop on Collegeview Avenue. The show referenced both the iconic images of the Art Center galleries as well as contemporary trends. Representational works, such as Half-Length Portrait of a Bearded Man with Arms Folded (Frank Duveneck) and The Honorable Mrs. Anne Seymour Damer (George Romney), were directly evident in their corresponding styles, the models emulating the figures in their works. With the more abstract works, such as The Harvest (Agnes Martin)and Block Island (Ellsworth Kelly), the fashions were only inspired by them, picking and choosing patterns and color palettes from the works, though not directly representing them.

Sophia Wallach ’15 with Charles Fairfax Murray’s Bocca Baciatta

All the while, with the gallery’s works extrapolated from the walls and fitted to seventeen Vassar student models, styles from today’s fashion scene also snuck their way into the outfit construction. The look inspired by the Half-Length Portrait of a Bearded Man with Arms Folded incorporates a trendy facial hair statement: intertwining flowers amongst a beard. In the outfit inspired by Dawn’s Wedding Feast Columns (Louise Nevelson), the model’s hair is pulled back into a half ponytail, commonly referred to as a “top knot” or “man bun,” a popular hair style amongst men at Vassar. These additional flairs allowed Vassar students to further engage with the works in the Art Center by including elements that are seen on Tumblr, Instagram, or on campus. The fashion show managed to incorporate and emulate the works in the Art Center while also embodying Vassar students’ own unique style.

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