Today I want to talk about pop art fashion influence on modern collections. We often see fashion designers referencing eras of art or taking elements of design from art to create clothing or even directly sampling prints and paintings in their textiles. Commercial partnerships are also commonly formed these days where designers collaborate directly with artists on their collections. This synergistic fusing of creative talent wasn’t always the norm, however.
Rather it was during the Pop Art era that fashion designers and artists began socializing in the same circles, influencing one another and sharing a culture. Andy Warhol was one of these mingling artists who developed tight-knit friendships with designers. He began his career as a fashion illustrator for magazines like Vogue, so it made sense then that he was one of the first icons of this trend to make a mark on the fashion world by turning his art into paper dresses. As a disposable garment, the paper dresses were the ultimate statement on consumerist lifestyles with his Campbell’s The Souper Dress becoming the most recognizable and popular.
Later on, fashion designers began incorporating his prints on their garments, like Gianni Versace for his Spring 1991 collection and thereafter Christian Dior as well. Long before those collections, however, Warhol’s good friend Yves Saint Laurent produced a show in 1966 titled the Pop Art collection that openly referenced this art revolution. His lively, everyday accessible collection was a big success, proving that fashion is best enjoyed when you can have a little fun with it.
Since Saint Laurent’s collection, fashion continued to evolve more toward a format to be enjoyed by everyone in a more wearable and affordable manner. Some designers have even emerged that base their overall design philosophy on this democratizing of fashion. This includes fashion designer Jeremy Scott, whose Fall 2014 Moschino collection heavily referenced this trend by saluting heavyweight commercial deities Frito-Lay and McDonald’s in his designs.
Even today, decades after its revolution, there are no signs of Pop Art’s self-referencing streak ending, with massive brands like Nike and Vans incorporating sketches from Roy Lichtenstein in their sneakers and runners. Due to its immense popularity rooted in the universal language of consumerism and its happy-go-lucky, eye-grabbing designs, this movement continues to be the most referenced art movement in fashion.
The Impact of Pop Art on the World of Fashion – From Art to Industry and Back
Ever since this movement emerged in the fifties, it has been going hand in hand with the fashion industry. Rebelling against elitist values and self-reflexive expressionist movement, this trend embraced mundane living experiences, introducing aspects of mass culture and bringing art closer to the new generation of Americans, who were starting to experience all benefits of the consumer paradise in the welfare state of post-war America.
Pop art employed familiar mass culture imagery from advertisements to other banal objects, wrapping it into sensational and bold color combinations. Richard Hamilton, one of the pioneers of this , used to describe pop art as “popular, transient, expandable, low cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business”. All these qualities pop art shared with the consumerist culture and fashion industry as one of its main features. It wasn’t long before pop art and fashion merged. Pop artist introduced a bright palette of colors and print definition form, which were used as the inspiration by many designers of that time and onwards.
Marriage between Pop Art and Fashion Design
The commercial partnership between art and fashion design is nothing new to us. Every single year, we see art-inspired collections on the catwalks worldwide. However, because of its nature rooted in celebration of consumerist goods, vibrant and catchy patterns and the ability to speak the universal language. Free of fine art elitism, pop art was destined to become the most referred art movement in the fashion industry. This marriage between pop art and fashion industry started to develop in the sixties not to be disturbed ever since. Once again, the social context of the decade decided the future of this particular connection. During the war and the time of austerity, clothes were more practical and unified in their design. Post-war prosperity changed that and new fashion items became more diverse.
At the same time, pop art was gaining popularity among the mainstream audiences. Designers saw this new movement as a potential source of inspiration. During the sixties, fashion designers and artists were moving in the same circles influencing each other’s work and being part of the same, shared culture. Yves Saint Laurent was among the first designers to turn a work of art into a dress design and to fully explore pop art in his collections. Not by chance, Andy Warhol also portrayed him in one of his four-panel silkscreens.
Pop Art Fashion – Here to Stay
Today’s fashion trends are probably one of the best indicators to tell that pop art is still popular today as it was in the past century. In the world of mass consumption, pop art still thrives on those cultural values that have led to its origin. There are even those who now believe that pop art fashion should be proclaimed a movement in its own right. More than half a century has passed from the first Campbell’s Soup Dress to Jeremy Scott’s celebrations of consumerism in 2014 Moschino collection and yet pop art stands stronger than ever in the fashion world.
Whether they rely on the pop art ideas or borrow inspiration directly from pop art imagery, contemporary designers continue to return to this art movement. In recent years, we also saw an emergence of graffiti-inspired garments. But if street art will become the new pop art and beat its organic connection with the fashion industry, is yet to be seen in the upcoming years.