Touted as the world’s greatest museum of design and art, Victoria and Albert museum in London showcased iconic designer Alexander McQueen’s body of work in an exhibition titled ‘Savage Beauty’.
The fact that fashion has been given a platform in a space that was essentially reserved for art reflects the society’s approval of fashion as art. That the show was a sellout and drew an unprecedented crowd just short of half a million to become the most visited exhibition in the history of V&A is further indicative of the growing interest in the art of fashion. But does an evening gown amount to art? The museum that displayed McQueen’s collection certainly thinks fashion is art for his creations occupied the very same space that is set aside for legendary artists.
We cannot help but agree because we believe that fashion is nothing but a confluence of art and design to create striking pieces of aesthetic appeal. Fashion shows are the means to display this 'art' that is the fruition of countless hours of work that the designer puts in, in the studio, just as an artist would. The moment you stop looking at a fashion show as a parade of clothes and perceive it as a mirror of our culture and aesthetic tastes, you realise the art of fashion and that the lines between the art world and fashion have become increasingly blurred.
Fashion is art that one adorns on the body and a fashion show is most certainly the art form that influences our sartorial choices. We look at a gorgeous model sashaying down the ramp in a fashion show with unblinking interest and imagine ourselves in the same outfit. Such is the power of fashion shows. They have the potential to unleash trends that can go on to have a far-reaching impact on what the world wears. It is this keen interest that the society has in fashion that has resulted in fashion sharing space with art in museums and exhibitions. Giving impetus to this paradigm shift is the fact that the art of fashion is a major crowd puller, drawing an audience much larger than what niche artists attract.
Just as with other forms, fashion is art that has an associated economic and trade aspect. In fact, we’d go on to say that fashion is art that is more commercial and accessible than any other art form. While art is appreciated, bought and sold mostly behind closed doors, the art of fashion is more in the face. Fashion shows do not just entertain viewers and influence trends but also act as a medium that generates sales for the designer. By promoting sales, influencing trends and also providing entertainment, fashion shows manage to tick all the boxes to qualify as an art form.
Art forever has been associated with paintings, performances and murals. It is only recently that people have wrapped their head around the art of fashion. They have now woken up to the fact that fashion is art, a medium to communicate concepts and emotions and not just about clothing one’s body. With the unprecedented interest in fashion today, fashion shows are here to stay. The next time you come across a show, don’t just look at the models as clothes-horses but soak in the music, the rhythm and the design sensibility to see whether you think it as an art form too.