20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)

Today, many fashion brands make art collaborations. In this article we will see how fashion and art interact during the 20th century.

Art and fashion have always gone side by side. Major world brands create collections with paintings by Andy Warhol, Van Gogh, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. They apply their works as a print on T-shirts or jeans, use them as a background for photo shoots. The history of the relationship between fine art and fashion goes back to the twentieth century. The MoMA Museum in New York has identified three time periods when art and fashion had the most intense relationship: surrealism of the 1920s, pop art of the 1960s and the 1990s.

In the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, with the subsequent emergence of сubism, modernism, futurism and surrealism, the ideological aspects of clothing interested many artists. Some of them have achieved a high status in the field of fashion. We can mention Lev Bakst — only his premature death prevented him from opening his own fashion house in Paris.

20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)
20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)
Lev Bakst, Esquisse for ballet Cleopatra

And the Ukrainian-French artist Sonya Delaunay had a lifetime exhibition at the Louvre. She has greatly succeeded in fashion design; in the 20s people all over the world wore her designs.

20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)
Sonya Delaunay, Life in colour

The Dutch group “De Stijl” (“Style”), Theo van Dusburg and Piet Mondrian had a huge influence on fashion and design. Andy Warhol had a close relationship with fashion.

Not only artists influenced fashion, but fashion designers themselves actively collaborated with artists. Since the mid-nineteenth century, many couturiers had their close relationship with the art world. Designers such as Paul Poiret and Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated with artists in the field of fashion design.

Paul Poiret

20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)

Paul Poiret was born into a middle-class Parisian family. He worked for Daucet and Worth, and in 1903 founded his own fashion house. Throughout his career, he developed associations with art. Poiret made his debut in the couture field when he was still a teenager. His collaborations with artists ranged from dresses and a label to a couture house. Elsa Schiaparelli said that he is, in fact, the first fashion designer who successfully connects fashion with art.

20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)

Among the artists with whom Poiret worked are Georges Lepa, Eduardo Benito, Man Ray, Edward Steichen, Raoul Dufy and others. For example, he assigned illustrator Bernard Naudin to be responsible for stationery and related graphic materials in 1906. Graphic artist and designer of jewelry and furniture Paul Iribe was invited to create the first of his luxury albums of couture models in 1908. Iribe also created the design of the couture house label, which was used for 20 years.

While Poiret invited artists for his fashion business, he also formed impressive personal collections of modern art and design. These two spheres constantly intersected and enriched each other. Artists who created projects for his business were also included in his collection (Dufy, Iribe, Lepape).

Elsa Schiaparelli

20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)

Elsa Schiaparelli also became famous for her frequent interaction with art. An Italian who first worked in Paris, and then in the United States after World War II. For the first few years, she focused exclusively on sportswear, and then came to the design of evening dresses.

Although Schiapareli has been running her business for more than 20 years, she is primarily remembered for a sweater with the inscription “trompe l’oeil” in 1928 – as well as her professional courage and her works of the late 1930s.

20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)

Being a beginner, in 1928 Schiaparelli developed her first work-a sweater with the inscription “trompe l’oeil”. This work has gained international success. In the 1930s, Schiaparelli collaborated with a group of surrealists who paid attention to the body and clothing in their sculptures. Communication with such artists as Christian Berard, Jean-Michel Frank, Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau gave her design courage.

Collaborations

The result of their collaboration was clothing and accessories, such as” Boot-hat”,” Lamb Hat”,” Dress of tears “and an Evening dress”Lobster”. These designs expressed a special boldness, as they challenged the traditional aesthetic norms. In addition, the fashion of the 1930s was focused on a more traditional and elegant femininity, expressed by smooth lines, wavy and long hair.

20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)
Tear dress

Created together with Dali “hat-shoe”. Salvador proposed this work as a sketch, and finalized by Schiaparelli herself. As a classic of the genre, an inverted shoe as a headdress is a kind of joke that preserves the rule of elegance.

A dress made of tears. Dali and Schiaparelli developed this work in 1937 and called this dress “A Tear-illusion”. It consisted of two parts – a cloak with real tears, and a dress on which the tears were fictitious. As this dress was designed during the Spanish Civil War, the design itself can be interpreted like some kind of political statement.

Another tandem of art and fashion created by Schiaparelli with Salvador Dali is a dress with a huge image of a lobster with parsley sprigs. The lobster appears before us in a ready-made form, and not in a live one, which softens its potentially sinister appearance.

20th Century Fashion and Art: Lev Bakst, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Collaborations with Salvador Dali (Tear Dress, Lobster Dinner Dress)
Lobster dinner dress, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli in collaboration with Salvador Dalí, 1937.

Thus, art and fashion, their inseparable relationship, appeared more than a hundred years ago. And this cooperation is becoming stronger every year, and, for us, as for observers and consumers, it is an increasingly interesting object to observe.

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