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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Recap: Fashion Week Beauty Trends

Fashion Weeks have come and gone, but we often forget the ingenuity of many designers within the presentation of their lines. A lot of work goes into presenting a product, with specific hair and make-up designs to accompany each model. We have pieced together some of our favourite beauty trends from New York, London, Paris, and Milan Fashion Weeks to inspire you through the coming months and set you on the right track.




Perhaps the most talked about beauty trend from NYFW, Prabal Gurung’s monochromatic cat-eye left us reminiscing on the days when we first attempted to recreate scenic visions of model makeup from the catwalk. While Diane Kendal has more precision with her styling, we reminisce on the early days we once spent in front of the mirror, playing with bold colours and patterns, hoping to copy the handiwork of industry professionals. Not only are we obsessed with the shape of this look, we are consumed by hues of sky blue, green, and orange. The models wore sleeked back hairstyles to accentuate this beauty trend. Gurung’s line was inspired by powerful women within his life and emphasized messages such as “We will not be silenced.” Not only did Gurung manage to present an ethereal physical beauty within his Fall 2017 line, he also inspired an inclusiveness and empowerment for women everywhere.                  



A major trend of New York Fashion week was found through shorter hairstyles ranging from precise bobs to buzz cuts. Alexander Wang beautifully displayed this trend and proved that women can rock boy cuts better than men. This display brought a nostalgia for the early 90’s and proved its timelessness. While long, luxurious hair has certainly been a desired trend for women everywhere, we often forget the power behind a bold, short haircut. For all those inspired to finally take their scissors and complete their long-awaited desire for a shorter do’ — we salute you.




For all the times you have unsuccessfully or incorrectly applied your lipstick, you can now think of it as a style choice, rather than an unfortunate run-in with your applicator. For those who have spent a long night out on the town and caught a glimpse of yourself in the window of the McDonalds you often frequent in the early morning, this is for you. For women who are on-the-go and have daringly applied dark shades of lipstick on a moving subway car, or quickly in the back of a cab before a “chance” run in with your ex and his new boo, this is for you. Preen by Thornton Bregazzi makes “accidental make-up” a way of the future and celebrates cherry red lips with an indirect application.          


Emily Wickstead artistically reinvents the black ribbon within a half-up, half-down hair style. Also seen during Marchesa, the black velvet ribbon is a 2017 style trend that we can get behind. A staple to any collection, the ribbon brings a sophistication to a quick and easy hairstyle choice. The ribbon can be used as a ponytail, or, alternatively, it can be restyled as a choker.




At Issey Miyake, hair is multidimensional, and once you add temporary hair-dye, greatness is achieved through it. Taking inspiration from the Northern Lights, Pecis created a hair headband on his models by adding blue, purple and green hues. This style choice reflects different colours when the model walks the runway as the colour will shift in the light. Our childhood fantasies of having bright, shimmery hair have been envisioned into a precise hairstyle that is as beautiful as it is bold. For those looking for an edge this year, or if you are simply looking for a way to keep your hair out of your eyes, take note.               


A major trend throughout all fashion weeks was found in the “no-makeup, make-up look.” MUAs, designers, and models ditched their plentiful products and sought out a more natural, minimalistic canvas on their faces. Lanvin took note of this trend and brilliantly executed a fresh-faced design to his runway. While there are times in which we find solace in our layers of foundation, concealer, contour, and highlight, the “no make-up” trend is telling us to love the skin we are in.




Gucci inspired an unexpected beauty trend that reinvents the way we see lipstick. Shying away from a staple red or pink lip, Gucci took a step in the right direction by inspiring a dark lip that compliments its Fall 2017 line. With an exaggerated cupid’s bow and an edge of glitter, Gucci makes our gothic dreams to a beautiful reality.


Designers like Bottega Veneta and Salvatore Ferragamo took inspiration from a deep side part. Within Veneta’s collection, models were layered with jeweled hair pieces to accompany their perfectly styled hair. This classic hairstyle goes a long way with subtle accessories. Whether you decide to dress it up with an accessory or keep it simple, you can’t go wrong with this hairstyle.

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The Best of MFW Street Style

As fashion week has moved on and descended upon Paris, it is time to say, ‘Ciao Milano!’ The Italian streets were blessed with tailored excellence. While some trends, like fur coats, camouflage, stripes, mixed prints, and puffy outerwear, did seem to carry over from NYFW and LWF, Milan was full of fresh trends strictly made for the streets of Italy to see. Italian ready-to-wear style was keen on flared jeans, sculpted shoulders, animal prints, puffy sleeves, and in true Italian fashion, the colour red. No matter what the style, Italians were not hesitant to remind people that they are true fashion trendsetters. Here are some of the best street styles from Milan Fashion Week.

Flared Pants

Various lengths of flared trousers made appearances on the streets of Milan once again. We saw the return of the flare during MFW last February, but it seems like the 70s continue to live on. Street goers channeled the 70s-inspired look in a variety of colours, textures, and lengths.

All Black Everything

Nothing feels better than wearing all black. It’s a fact. You can never go wrong wearing all black. Black will always be timeless, classic, sophisticated and trendy. It may be the colour of mourning, but it seemed to be the unofficial uniform for Milan Fashion Week.

Classic Chanel

Let’s be real, if there is one bag that will never go out of style, it’s a Chanel. Everyone seemed to rekindle their love for old-fashioned, classic Chanel handbags. It seems fitting, considering this season is already filled with vintage style references. Now, Chanel is being paired with an edgier and worn-in style. 


A contrast to some of the glamour that comes with the high fashion in Milan, comfort was taken as a priority to many show-goers. Comfy, logo-heavy athletic wear was commonly used as a statement piece or an entire ensemble.

The Colour Red

There was no short supply of red on the streets of Milan. Like the hints of yellow we saw on the streets in New York,  Milan’s colour of choice was red. Red was popping up everywhere! From complete head-to-toe ensembles to subtle accessories. Red was the colour of the streets, making enough of an appearance to accentuate prints, textures, and styles. Red was by far the biggest street style trend of the week.


Another powerful trend on the street during MFW was pinstripes. Show-goers brought the class and showed everyone the modern way to rock pinstripes. The previous go-to workwear pattern was seen on all kinds of jackets, blazers, and blouses. The pinstripe is back — and more versatile than ever!


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Milan Fashion Week f/w17: The Highlights

Milan is best known for being the most conservative of the four big fashion weeks and that’s partly due to the Italian woman herself. When we look at Italian design, it seems very set in its ways. House codes are followed to the T and very rarely do fashion houses aim at creating collections that stretch too far out into the world of sex-appeal or groundbreaking contemporary fashion (with the exception of a few.) However, it seems that in recent years, Milan has been edging closer and closer into previously unexplored territory by tapping into new talent and allowing designers to go beyond the confines of  strict design codes. This season saw one of the best outcomes in terms of collections for Milan in years.

Here are Novella’s highlights for the best of Milan Fashion Week!


Photo: Ricostru

There’s something about a collection that relies heavily on gothic romanticism that just gets the blood pumping in every fashion lover’s heart. At this seasons Ricostru show, the audience was treated to a cavalcade of modern gothic romantics. Black leather looked softened and fluid when paired with knits and vinyl, while sheer elements created a soft whimsical aspect to the collection. The collection also had a very 90’s goth rock edge to it that felt refreshing after seeing 70’s trends dominate the runway everywhere else. However, the collection did not rely solely on black, some of the best looks came in light stone greys and metallic silver, with the most compelling and inspiring looks having a beautiful iridescent sheer silk draped over them.

Erika Cavallini

Photo: Erika Cavallini

Contemporary fashion is dominated by trends and sometimes designers feel compelled to have to follow said trends, which can lead to some extremely unfortunate mishaps and hiccups for designers. Thankfully, at Erika Cavallini, trendspotting and editing definitely paid off.  The designer definitely hit a strong note by picking some of this year’s biggest trends and fuse them into a perfectly smart and relevant collection. Ruffles and plaid danced with one another in the form of flirty skirts, coats, and dresses. Florals were printed on pastel fabrics and even denim and sportswear found their way into the collection in ways that weren’t off-putting. Creating an intelligent and social media ready collection that’s bound to be on many young fashion lovers wish lists this season.

For Restless Sleepers

Photo: For Restless Sleepers

Sleepwear has been a major trend on and off of the runway for the better part of a year now. It’s invaded menswear, ladieswear, street-style, and even fast fashion retail with a gusto that hasn’t been seen since its big boom during the 1970s. At F.S.R, luxury loungewear reigned supreme in all of its silken glory. Heavy bohemian prints and velvet rounded out the collection while crisp Japanese and English florals were presented in the most regal of colours, giving off an air of richness that goes perfectly with the clothing being presented at hand. One of the standout outfits had to have been a strikingly beautiful silk robe that depicted a beautiful scene of peacocks taking flight in hues of evergreen and watercolour sky blues that conjure up an image of a king lounging in his gilded smoking room.


Photo: Yannis Vlamos

Alessandro Michele makes another triumphant return at Gucci this season with his usual cacophonous parade of colour, texture, and style. Models wore everything from pseudo-Paco Rabanne-esque 1960s style knitted hoods, to a rainbow fringe, and even Japonesque florals. The wonderful part of this collection was its sheer size. A total of 120 looks were featured on the runway which featured almost every trend imaginable, but the most striking of the bunch had to be the looks that were made with the help of Spanish artist Coco Capitan. The artist created highly political statement slogans for Michele’s collection which took aim at the current political and social climate in the United States. One Particular look fused an interesting mix of denim (in the form of cutoff shorts) with a glittering bodysuit that looked almost like a mirrored exoskeleton with a slogan shirt that proudly stated: “common sense is no that common.” This look, which featured one of the simplest outfits in the entire collection actually proved to be one of the most striking and visually stunning in the entire collection; giving Milan its own iconic protest moment.


Photo: Giamba

In a surprising turn, Italy’s wunderkind Giambatistta Valli opted for a presentation this season, as opposed to a runway show, to feature his baby line Giamba. But that did not take away from the beauty that his collection brings ever season. For this season, Giamba continued doing what it does best, providing young well to do women with stunningly regal and flirty clothing that completely defines today’s fashion forward millennial. However, this season saw the addition of something interesting and genuinely unexpected for a Giamba show, extravagant luxury. The first telltale sign that this Giamba collection wasn’t going to be like the rest was with the introduction of rich long-haired furs. Beautiful shag coats were layered over pretty “it girl” dresses creating a 70s sensibility that felt completely relevant with today’s fashion scene. Another extremely pleasing aspect of the show was its slight injection of maturity. It seems that instead of creating another collection of sweet as bubblegum dresses, Valli opted to use a darker colour palette, giving his a collection and Edwardian heaviness that is definitely pulling the brand forward into new territory.


Photo: Monica Feudi

It’s a known fact that Miuccia Prada has always moved to the beat of her own drum, and this season is no different. For her fall 2017 collection at Prada, Miuccia presented a collection aimed at reclaiming women’s sensuality and sexuality in a way that’s reminiscent of past feminist movements, hence the overall 1960s / 70s feel. The collection starts by featured strong silhouettes that fused the raw sexuality exuded by the female body, with elements of menswear. This gave the collection a wonderful air of androgyny. However, masculinity was not Miuccia’s answer to female strength. For the remainder of the show, Miuccia Prada presented compelling looks steeped in femininity, because a strong woman doesn’t have embrace masculine traits to be strong, femininity can be just as strong, if not stronger in its own way. Case in point being the true stars of the show, which were a group of graphic printed dresses that depicted portraits of women carelessly lounging, posing, and generally going on about their day without a care in the world. The images are reminiscent of women in the 1960s, with the bright coloured clothing a perfectly coiffed hair. It’s almost as if you can see Leslie Gore singing “You don’t own me” while wearing one of these dresses, giving 1 part seduction and the other part empowered lioness.

Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini

Photo: Luca Tombolini

Philosophy was known for having it’s great fashion moments over the years, but it seemed like it was beeing overshadowed in recent years by the big Milan 5. Fortunately for lovers of the brand, it seems like designer Lorenzo Serafini took fall 2017 as a way to change all of that. This season saw one of the most compelling collections at Philosophy to date. The collection, which was steeped heavily in old school femininity, played on all of the ultra fem trends that haven swept fashion for the last few seasons (ruffles being a big one.) The 1950s and 60s silhouettes were made fresh and modern through sheer polka dot blouses and dresses, while tulle dresses added a youthful edge to the already lively and soft show. One of the biggest highlights of the collection is a simple outfit comprised of a sheer ruffled blouse worn with a slick white dress pant. The outfit itself isn’t anything different from what been seen audiences has seen before, but it’s in the outfit’s expert and well thought out design that truly makes it a standout piece. All in all, this collection seems to be a preview of the newly lit spark that is inspiring Serafini, and in the fashion industry, any spark is a good one!


Art x Fashion: 5 Spring Looks Inspired by Mystical Landscapes at The AGO

Art and fashion have always gone hand in hand. Through the use of colour, texture, design, and more, both art and fashion have been able to invoke feelings, memories, and emotions within the people who interact with them. It’s said that those with a true appreciation for art can experience a masterpiece on a spiritual level; the same can be said of fashion. This in turn proves that fashion and art really aren’t that different. Both aim at creating an experience that goes deeper than what’s seen on a superficial level.


This October, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Musee D’Orsay have partnered to bring Mystical Landscapes to the AGO from October 22, until January 29. The exhibition aims at connecting the spiritual world and art. Masterpieces from around the world, some of them national treasures that have never left their home countries are now being displayed for all to see and experience until January. Novella magazine was recently invited to view the Mystical Landscapes exhibit during a media preview held by the AGO, where the countless masterpieces inspired a thought: Does life really imitate art and to what extent do the two coincide with one another? Here is a look at handful of the marvelous masterpieces being shown within the AGO, and the masterpieces of design that pair beautifully with them.

Photo: Delpozo
Photo: Delpozo

Wenzel Hablik – Starry Sky x Delpozo Resort 2017

Since the birth of the human race, man has always looked to the stars as a symbol of the spiritual world. It represents something visible, yet unreachable, terrifying, yet comforting. Czech artist Wenzel Hablik understood this deeply when creating his masterpiece Starry Sky. The majesty of space can be seen in the painting with the raw creative force of space swirling around until it meets at one central point. What that point is, we’ll never know, but it’s for that same reason that this painting is held in such high regard. Part of what makes up spirituality is not knowing what really lies beyond what we can see, and this painting does just that. Josep Font interprets the night sky in a very similar fashion to Hablik. The cosmic print on some of his resort collection carry the same feeling of movement as seen in the painting. There’s a sense of something untamed with the clothing itself. The seemingly random arrangement of stars splattered all over the pieces not only mirrors the untamed nature of Hablik’s stars, but also mimics our very own night sky.,

Photo: Umberto Fratini
Photo: Umberto Fratini

Claude Monet – Water Lilies x Simone Rocha Spring/Summer 2017

Sometimes, all it takes is looking at a flower to experience an array of emotions. Joy, rage, sadness, serenity, and longing can all be felt depending on the flower and the memories associated with that flower. Claude Monet’s series of Water Lily paintings are another prime example of how flowers can convey emotions. The expressionist style and subject matter can instill a somber feeling, or a sense of serenity, depending on the viewer, just as flowers do in real life. Their mystery mixed with their beauty intrigue us and leave us wanting more. The same can be said for Simone Rocha’s ss17 woman. She’s mysterious, beautiful, and intimidating, just like a flower. The collection, which is rooted in all things organic, takes texture, shape, volume, and print and makes them fluid like Monet’s brush strokes. There’s a sense of expressionism within the collection. With many of the elements of the collection coming together to create a singular thought. There is one outfit in particular featured in the Mystical Landscapes exhibit that bares a striking resemblance to one of Monet’s Water Lilies. This particular sheer frock features a diaphanous silhouette, which is covered in ruffles and embroidery that closely resemble a group of water lilies drifting through a body of water. The look itself paints a serene picture, with the model looking fresh and soft, yet mysterious and reserved. It’s as though she was one of Monet’s flowers herself.

Photo: Yannis Vlamos
Photo: Yannis Vlamos

Eugene Jansson – Riddarfjarden x Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer 2017

One major highlight of the Mystical Landscapes exhibit is Eugene Jansson’s painting Riddarfjraden, which is regarded as a national treasure in its native homeland of Sweden. Now, some people would argue that making a painting a national treasure is silly, since it really has no monetary value other than the one that was made up for it. But rather, it’s not the cost of the artwork that makes it a treasure. It’s the moment in history that the painting captures which makes it a treasure. It’s the dark inky blue Swedish night lit up by streetlights and a rising or setting sun in the horizon that makes this a treasure. It’s the painter’s ability to capture a moment of sheer serenity that makes this more than a monetary treasure, it’s a treasure for the soul. Now treasures can be found in the world of fine art all the time, but in the fashion world, only the most distinct and emotion provoking outfits can be deemed as treasures. During Carolina Herrara’s ss17 collection, there occurred a few moments when fashion found it’s own treasures. Among the dozens of beautifully designed pieces, a handful of gowns stole the show. One such outfit was a denim blue dress that resembled Jansson‘s beautiful painting. The skirt, which is the real show stopper, takes on the life of Jansson’s brush strokes. The glossy fabric shines with a print that resembles water rippling and reflecting the light cast above it. It’s cold like the Jansson’s Swedish night, yet warm like the sun at its horizon. It instills a sense of magic, just like the Swedish master did in his painting.


Photo: Luca Trombolini
Photo: Luca Trombolini

Georgia O’Keefe – Red Hills x Aganovich Spring/Summer 2017

Colour has always been a vital ingredient in creating both beautiful art and fashion. In Georgia O’Keefe’s world, colour is one of the single most important factors in creating a masterpiece. For her painting Red Hills, O’Keefe used bright and bold flashes of white, black, and red. The painting resembles an explosion, with all three colours working with one another to convey the artist’s internal emotion. The painting, which showcases a dark and brooding atmosphere, is offset by the brilliant white sun at its center. Although vastly different, this duality actually blends together perfectly allowing the contrasting colours to compliment one another rather than clash. For Aganovich’s ss17 show, bright contrasts in colour were a very important aspect of the collection. The bright ruby red of the outfit against the models stark porcelain skin mirrors the contrasts in colour created by Georgia O’Keefe in her painting. Like O’Keefe, the contrasts creates a dark atmosphere around the model, drawing you in for a closer look. Creating a sense of brooding darkness with the deep red of that gown that’s immediately offset by the model’s pristine completion. The entire look fights with itself as it conveys what it really is; is it dark and gothic, or is it angelic and pristine? But it’s in this exact duality that the look comes alive. It isn’t one or the other, it’s a perfect balance of the two.


Photo: Umberto Fratini
Photo: Umberto Fratini

Emily Carr – Sky x Aalto Spring/Summer 2017

Another aspect that art uses is uniformity. In Emily Carr’s Sky, Carr uses different shades of blue and beige to create a monochrome uniformity within the painting. The painting depicts a celestial occurrence, wherein the clouds swirl around one another, as if being mixed by an unseen heavenly force. The different shades of blue, ranging from the softest powder blue, to a deep navy, all work with one another to create different levels of depth and movement. This sense of depth, paired alongside the wisps of white seen among the different blues, create the illusion that the painting is singing a glorious yen to the sky, and whatever might be just beyond our range of human understanding. At Aalto, designer Tuomas Merikoski presented a collection heavily based in monochrome colour combinations. Light wash denim was paired with smart powder blue suiting and delicate navy lace to create levels of depth within the outfit, just as Carr did in Sky. Now sometimes dressing in one singular colour can confuse the eye, since it’s hard to tell when one piece ends and another begins. While at other times, monochrome outfits may come off as uninspired and boring. However, Aalto’s use of varying blues creates a sense of movement, separation, and surprise within the outfit. Allowing the eye to follow a path that starts with the denim jacket and ends in the center with the navy blouse in the same way Carr uses her blues to help guide the eye to the central location of her painting.