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fashion - a form of art?

Growing up, the only world I’ve ever known is one full of art, full of creativity and expression, full of varying interpretations of both, the things around us and those concocted in our imaginations. I’ve always known fashion to be innovative, but something that never crossed my mind till I read it in a magazine, something that baffled me- was the line “fashion is art”. 

Never had I ever heard of fashion being explained this way. How could what I wear possibly be art? By definition, art is described as ‘an expression or application of human skill or talent’. We see it in sculptures, in paintings, in architecture, and if one looks just a little further ahead the curtain of the obvious, we see it in food, in our surroundings, in our literature, in our music, in everything, everywhere. If you want to see it, it’s there. It doesn’t take a good eye, it doesn’t take a sixth sense, it just takes a will for appreciation. Art doesn’t just appear on a slab of canvas, it’s perceived in all these things and more, whether it be simple or abstract. Art isn’t defined by a group of thought leaders or a dictionary. Art is whatever you deem it to be, and if it’s ingenuity you reckon it to be, then yes, fashion is art. To put it figuratively, a piece of fabric is paint, a designer is the artist, and the body is the canvas. In fact, fashion may be one of the most crucial, evocative forms of art, for we live our life in it while still being unappreciative of it. What we wear gives the first impression of our beliefs, of our attitude and our persona, of who we are and who we’d like to be, while simultaneously playing a massive role in functionality. 

One of the most interesting things about art is how varied everybody’s interpretations of the same piece can be. A notable example of this is the “naked dress” worn by famous artists on red carpets. To some, this was a bold and empowering design, celebrating confidence and body positivity. To others, it was vulgar and inappropriate, supposedly objectifying women to nothing more than their bodies, promoting unrealistic beauty standards. Another example of this is the revival of 90’s fashion - some perceived it as classy and nostalgic, while others criticised it for its lack of originality. The phrase, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder is the perfect culmination of situations like this one - reinforcing art as extremely subjective and personal, making a statement open to interpretation.

What’s better is that one mustn’t be a designer to express themselves through fashion. Individuality is easiest expressed with what we don. That girl strutting across the hallway in knee-high boots is as distinctly herself as that man in the tux rushing to his office. Even when we don’t think so, we’re putting forth an image of ourself that is heavily influenced by what we’re perceived as, and the easiest thing to notice about someone is their dress up, isn’t it? For example, we identify ourselves as students from our uniform, as policemen or fire fighters or even teachers by our get up, even social statuses are conveyed through what we wear. When entering a job interview, your outfit is evaluated as significant to your efficiency and organisation - a more put together look conveys organisational skills and a higher degree of commitment.

A form that’s so tremendously more personal, universal and accessible than others, fashion takes a very special form in allowing everyone to find their niche, creating their own ellipsis, a style that expresses their ambitions and aspirations and sharing it with the world, possibly creating an unmatchable exclusivity in expression.

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