Artists and Clothing
A look through art history reveals innumerable artists who designed clothing:Renaissance and Baroque artists designed costumes for their patrons’ spectacular events, there is a long history of artists designing theatrical and dance costumes, Jacques-Louis David is credited with the development of clothing styles suitable for French Republicans,Russian Constructivists and Productivists designed garments for the new Soviet State, and Italian Futurists produced a style of dress that conformed to their radical social ideals.
Artistic Dress is something far more specific that clothing designed or worn by artists. The term as it was used in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuriesrelates specifically to clothing that was produced for everyday use, designed in accordance with contemporary art principles, intended to challenge fashion, and considered a work of art in and of itself. Josef Hoffmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Gustav Klimt, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, and Henry van de Velde are only the best-known names among the hundreds of designers of the clothing called "Artistic Dress."
Their clothing designs were an attempt to counteract the force of the fashion industry and make contemporary women’s dress reflect the aesthetics of contemporary art movements. Unlike previous artists who dabbled in clothing design, these artists considered the garments they produced to be works of art, worthy of exhibitions, public lectures, essays, and books. Their work in the field was widely known and often appeared in the popular press.
Despite extensive press coverage of Artistic Dress between 1900 and 1912, between 1914 and 1975 the phenomenon was forgotten, ignored, or dismissed by scholars. Since the 1980s, a few scholars have turned their attention to this topic, but it remains unfamiliar both to the general public and most art historians. I hope this website will generate more interest in and scholarship on Artistic Dress.