Art x Fashion: Fashion inspired by history’s most stunning gowns

Fashion and art have always worked hand in hand like a hall of mirrors. When one creates something, the other reflects it. For centuries, art and fashion have danced with one another. Creating memorable images in either fabric or paint form. When I chose to venture into art and fashion in the first “Art x Fashion” article, the comparisons made between the artwork’s and the clothing was based on colour, print, pattern, etc. Now, the comparisons are based on some of the most stunning gowns ever painted throughout history.

Ann Demeulemeester x Thomas Hudson

Ann Demeulemeester fw17 by Sebastien Meurnier | “Portrait of Lady Frances Courtenay, wife of William Courtenay, 1st Viscount Courtenay” by Thomas Hudson | Photo: Vogue Runway

Until recently, black was a coloured reserved for mourning, not elegance. So when it came to finding a gown that matched today’s modern obsessions with the shade, a deep dive into the world of classical art was the only way to go about it. Luckily, I stumbled upon Thomas Hudson‘s beautiful painting “Portrait of Lady Frances Courtenay, wife of William Courtenay, 1st Viscount Courtenay” which showcases its main subject wearing a beautiful black gown. The sheen on the black fabric, white ruffled collar, and sleeves was mirrored by a look that walked the runway at Ann Demeulemeester this season, which featured a black dress and white shirt. The two gowns almost look like doorways. One leading to the past, the other, the future.

Loewe x Giovanni Boldini

Loewe fw17 by Jonathan Anderson | “Madame Charles Max” by Giovanni Boldini

Powder blue, not only was it named the colour of the year last year (along with rose quartz) It has steadily filtered its way through everything from fashion, to home decor, and even car colours. What sets this colour apart from other blues on the lighter spectrum is its softness, its cleanliness, its elegance, and it’s ability to remain an extremely dominant colour without looking juvenile. At Loewe, a stunning powder blue gown came down the runway looking like a clown in the wind. Immediately Giovanni Boldini came to mind. The effortless brush strokes of the blue dress in Boldini’s “Madame Charles Max” look as light as air, mirroring the billowing blue gown on the runway.

 

Calvin Klein x Thomas Cooper Gotch

Calvin Klein fw17 by Raf Simons | The Lady in Gold by Thomas Cooper Gotch

Gold is one of those colours that will always be associated with royalty. It represents the thrown, the sun, wealth, extravagance, and the God-given right to rule a kingdom. In Thomas Coop Gotch‘s painting “The Lady in Gold,” we can see how gold plays a vital role in creating an elegant and domineering atmosphere. Not only is the dress itself a beautiful hue of yellow gold, the entire painting itself is painted in various hues of warm yellow. Giving the woman in the painting a sense of sheer importance and status. At Calvin Klein, A stunning gold coat walked the runway. The gold fabric and cleave PVC overlay looked made the garment look like liquid gold. Twisting and swirling onto itself. Truly a modern take on an old royal favourite.

 

Gucci x Frans Verhas

Gucci fw17 by Alessandro Michele | “The New Bracelet” by Frans Verhas

Call it lilac, periwinkle, or lavender, or aubergine, but no colour can match the unbridled intensity of purple. Which screams “look at me!” regardless of which hue is being shown. In Frans Verhas The New Bracelet,” a soft lilac jumps out from the canvas against a neutral background. It’s clear that the intention of the painting was o put the gown itself into focus while letting the background fade away. And what a perfect colour to do just that. However, at Gucci, this purple gown was one of the only colours that was featured entirely by itself. The dominant colour creates a mesmerising look that needs little more than a lustre in the fabric itself to stand out. Just like Frans Painting, this Gucci dress captures the eye and lets the background fade away.

Chika Kisada x William Ross

Chika Kisada fw17 by Chika Kisada | “Princess Feodora of Hohenlohe-Langenburg” by William Ross

What do you think of when you think of pink? For me, I see candy, extravagance, sugar, delicateness, and power. Now, most people would agree with candy and delicateness, but why power and extravagance? It’s simple, pink is one of the strongest colours on the colour wheel. It gives off an intensity without ever experiencing any muteness in its hues. Whether it’s baby pink or fuschia, pink lights a fire unlike any other colour on the spectrum. In William Ross‘ “Princess Feodora of Hohenlohe-Langenburg,” we can see that even though the pink chosen for the gown is the softest imaginable, it still draws the eye to it. Dominating everything around it in the painting. This is also the case with this stunning pink dress at Chika Kisada aw17. The mix of bubblegum pink and dusty rose creates levels of excitement and interest in the dress. Pulling your eyes towards the harness on the model’s chest, and drawing it all the way down to the train.

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Fashion and the Force at the ROM: Star Wars Gowns from Rodarte

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As part of Planet ROM for the Holidays, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) brought visitors on a journey through space and fashion with the display of three of Rodarte’s Star Wars themed gowns in the Fashion & The Force exhibition. Enjoyed by visitors of all ages, the display of the gowns has been extended until January 24th 2016.

In 2005, Kate and Laura Mulleavy founded Rodarte, a luxury brand instantly lauded for its distinctly contemporary design concepts and intricate textile innovations, artistically mixing high couture, California influences, and explorations into other art forms.“Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte are the quintessential wacky chicks. They have a passion and understanding for pop culture and its relevance that allows them to create collections that are truly original. When the Star Wars gown emerged at the end, the energy changed; there was a sense of ebullition as well as one of being slightly perplexed at the choice, at seeing these iconic images presented in this way, and then came the applause. The force ultimately wins,” – Nicholas Mellamphy, Vice President and Buying Director at The Room and Person Shopping, Hudson’s Bay.

The finale of the Fall 2014 collection was the entrance of the five couture gowns with Star Wars artwork that the Mulleavys said were “inspired by our nostalgia for our childhood, delving into the ephemeral space of our imagination, highlighting our fascination with storytelling and cinema…More than anything, this collection is about the limitless possibilities of youth and how our imagination transformed our backyard into a great adventure.”

The gowns at the ROM include:

  • Yoda on Dagobah themed printed silk charmeuse gown with silk chiffon and Swarovski crystals
  • Death Star themed printed silk charmeuse gown with black silk velvet and Swarovski crystals.
  • C-3PO and R2-D2 on Tatooine themed printed silk charmeuse gown with Swarovski crystals.

“These are fantastic, digitally-printed designs that only the Rodarte sisters could come up with – they are a modern rendering of their childhood memories blended with their adult, feminine aesthetics into glamourous and beautifully made evening wear. I am absolutely thrilled they will become part of the ROM’s permanent collection” – Dr. Alexandra Palmer, Nora E. Vaughan Senior Curator, Textiles & Costume, Royal Ontario Museum.

Special thanks to Nicholas Mellamphy for the generous loan of the Star Wars gowns, pending gift to ROM.

Evening Gowns Designer: Zarucci

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With her government job not fulfilling her creative needs, Ottawa native, Nora Pucci, decided in 2013 to tap into her creative psyche and pursue her long-time dream of becoming a fashion designer. Pucci has always been in awe of evening gowns and sketching dress silhouettes since she was a little girl, and now in her second year with her brand, she has created an evening dress line, Zarucci, where she caters to the elegant and sophisticated woman.

Seen in the glossy pages of FLARE Magazine, and on celebrities such as Mishael Morgan, From Young and the Restless, during Toronto’s International Film Festival, and Oscar nominated actress Sarah Ishaq, Zarucci is surely making a name for itself and continues to be on the rise. Coming up against major international labels that also cater to evening gowns and have a mass market, Pucci continues to put her fashion vision to serve not only her designing instinct, but the desire of many women who want to look graceful and statuesque in a Zarucci gown.

“You have to be super focused on what you’re after, what you’re creating, what you’re market is, what your price point should be, and then it’s a building block from there,” explains Pucci. “You never see brands build from scratch and happen overnight, it takes time. Especially in a cut throat industry such as the fashion industry, there’s a lot of big fashion houses and brands that are already famous, so you’re pretty much building something from zero.”

Not holding back on following her dream, Nora Pucci shares with Novella Magazine her continuous efforts to make Zarucci a household name amongst the Hollywood elite.

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From being in the fashion industry thus far, what have you learned about the female clientele?

N.P: I’ve learned that age doesn’t matter so much as much as lifestyle. Sometimes you think, “oh I’m targeting girls right out of high school,” or, “I’m targeting women in their 50’s.” and sometimes there’s a misconception on the idea that it is only for girls that are fashion forward, but that’s not true. There’s older women who are fashion forward too, there are older women who take care of their bodies and there are younger girls who have no fashion sense what so ever. So that’s when I decided I’m not going to be targeting an age group, I’m going to be targeting a woman with a certain lifestyle that speaks to every woman who takes care of herself, about her health and her body, and a woman who is willing to spend a little bit more in high quality pieces. It’s not the woman who likes fast fashion who buys cheap stuff and throws it away season after season.

What do you like most about being a designer?

N.P: The creative side is my favourite! Just sitting there with my notebook and just imagining and putting it on paper. Drawing it and outing on the sparkles and just trying to create something beautiful and different.

What is your favourite piece to design and create?

N.P: A big lavish gown. I love something that’s very lavish but yet very feminine. Something that has a little bit of sexiness into it, and when I’m talking about a lavish gown it’s about the quality of the silks and the draping.

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What’s your favourite style of dress?

N.P: My favourite style of dress is long with a big slit on the thigh. It drapes on the ground, but when she walks you see some leg action.

What are your favourite colours to work with?

N.P: That changes from here to then. I’ve always been a fan of rich colours, so I like the gold the silver, and also deep reds. I do get into more pastel moods during the springtime, but that all depends on my inspiration at the time and what kind of collection I want to create each season.

Who is the celebrity embodiment of Zarucci?

N.P: I would like someone classy with a little more of a fashion sense like Kate Middleton. She’s a very classy woman and I think she carries herself very nicely. She dresses quite casually most of the times, but she also dresses herself up nicely when the occasion calls for it. She does wear a lot of pastels and embroidered stuff but on a more toned down and classier level in order to speak to her persona as a princess. And I’m not going to lie, if Kim Kardashian wants to wear one of my dresses, I would be totally up to! But, if I had to look up to someone it would be Kate more than Kim.

What sets your line apart from other eveningwear brands?

N.P: My fabrics because are not simple, they’re quite intense and that’s why I try to keep my silhouettes simple. I like to use embroidered fabrics and silk chiffons. I love chiffon because it is a super lightweight fabric and makes you feel like you’re wearing tissue paper yet look super elegant when you walk. They’re definitely not easy fabrics to work with though, but they feel great when on.

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If you want to learn more about Zarucci go to http://www.zarucci.com/ !