The Influence of Art Movements on Fashion: From Impressionism to Surrealism


Human desire for self-expression has often served as the driving force behind new art movements, and these have had an undeniable impact upon fashion across the centuries. From impressionism to surrealism, the rich history of art around the world has had a major influence on the way fashion evolves. Let us explore how some of the art movement’s most famous works have contributed to the ever-changing landscape of fashion.

1. An Impressionable Influence: How Impressionism Uplifted 19th Century Fashion

Impressionism was a revolutionary art style that influenced every aspect of the 19th century. From furniture, architecture, to fashion, Impressionism was a creative force whose impact is still visible today.

During the 19th century, fashion designers were inspired by Impressionism and pushed the boundaries of form and color. Brightening colors, new silhouettes, and unusual prints were all a result of the Impressionist influence. Skirts were elongated, and dresses were draped in graceful fabrics that finished with flouncing hemlines. Women wore slimmer fitting bodices, revealing more of the neckline, and often included lace collars and cuffs. Waistlines were lowered and jackets were tailored in unusual designs.

The impact of Impressionist fashion was seen on every strata of society. Clothes were no longer seen as practical garments, but as an effective way to express one’s personality. Haute couture designers such as Worth, Doucet, and Redfern used the new style of painting as inspiration for their designs. In this way, fashion was linked to art and Impressionism found immense popularity with the public.

Impressionism created a lasting impression on 19th century fashion. It introduced a greater sense of personal expression and freedom to clothing, and made fashion even more aspirational. Even today, the bold colors and prints of the era can be seen on the runways of international fashion shows.

2. Connecting the Surreal: How the Surrealist Movement Impacted Late 20th Century & 21st Century Style

The Surrealist Movement of the early 20th century left a lasting impression on the fashion and art world that continues to this day. With its dream-like and abstract works, surrealism forged an exciting new path for creative expression that has influenced style in ways both expected and unexpected.

Unsurprisingly, the use of surrealism in fashion was most evident in couture, with designers such as Christian Dior exploring the boundaries of what was possible with the movement’s pioneering designs and techniques. More recent fashion houses like Moschino have taken up this mantle and continue to introduce sleek and imaginative surrealist looks.

But surrealism can also be found in unexpected places. Its impact is seen in street-style, particularly in urban fashion hubs such as London and Tokyo, where fashionistas have been increasingly drawn to designs featuring off-the-wall features such as bright colours and graphics. The surrealist influence encourages bold experimentation and has allowed these individuals to explore their personal style on a deeper level.

Surrealism has also made its way onto the catwalk, featured in works by high-end fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen. Here, dream-like features and otherworldly elements create an atmosphere of whimsy and intrigue, allowing the designer to add a unique element to their collections.

From the extreme heights of couture to the most casual of street style, surrealism has remained a constant influence in fashion for over a century. Its ability to stir the imagination and inspire creativity has allowed it to become a necessary staple of the 21st century style landscape.

3. Blurring the Boundaries: Associations Between Dadaism and Fashion

Dadaism and fashion have much more in common than one may expect. Drawing largely on the elements of rebellion and surrealism, the two play off each other to create some of the most unexpected and bizarre looks.

  • Avant-garde fashion is less about following trends and more about creating rebellious, unique looks inspired by Dadaist artwork.
  • From large, statement pieces to eye-catching patterns, designers often draw influence from the rebellion and abstract art of Dadaism.

For example, the Berlin-based label DADAISMUS was created to design fashion that celebrates the power of Dadaism. The brand uses a combination of materials and textures, as well as bold and surreal prints, to bounce off of the surreal movement.

Dada art also heavily influences the creative and conceptual aspects of fashion. Designers of high-end clothes often draw inspiration from Dadaism and incorporate elements of it into their designs—blurring the boundaries between the two disciplines.

4. Celebrating the Cubism: Shapes & Forms of the Cubist Movement in Current Day Style

Cubism is one of the most important and celebrated art movements of the early 20th century, and its influence can still be felt in current day style. The use of shapes and forms – the primary elements of cubist art – can be seen in fashion, jewelry, and even architecture. Here’s how:

  • Jewelry: Jewelry that pays homage to cubism often incorporates angular or deconstructed shapes, such as cubes and geometric patterns. Cubism has been interpreted in many modern pieces, including earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces.
  • Architecture: Cubism has inspired a range of structures, from skyscrapers to bungalows. Architects have used cubism’s deliberate angularity to create unique modern designs. For instance, the Guggenheim Museum in Spain features cubist inspired shapes and grid-like structures.
  • Fashion: You don’t need to be a cubist to wear shapes inspired by the cubist art movement. Several fashion brands have created clothing with those signature angular lines, such as the asymmetrical and deconstructed suits seen on Prada’s Spring/Summer 2020 runway.

In summary, the cubist movement has made an undeniable imprint on current day style, with its bold shapes and unconventional forms inspiring fashion designers, jewelry makers, and architects alike. As cubism is revisited in the realms of style, art and design, it is sure to continue to spark creativity and imagination for years to come.

5. Transcending the Abstract: Expressionism’s Resurgence in the Fashion World

From the vibrant reds of vibrant Matisse canvases, to subtle Dali-inspired surrealism, Expressionism returns in fashion with an exciting boom that is very much alive in the modern scene. The fashion world recently joined forces with Expressionism in ways fueled by new and evolving technologies, inspiring a renewed approach to creating art in fashion, and priming the public to take a second look at many of these classic figures. Here are five ways that Expressionism is resurgent in the fashion world:

  • Printed & Painted Embellishments: Expressionism comes into play in the form of eye-catching, unique designs on fashion items. These pieces, abundant by prominent designers, are crafted with an immeasurable sense of character, using little-known designs from past Expressionist painters. There’s no need to guess who the influences are when you’re looking at a rolling landscape painted onto a blouse.
  • Futuristic Fabric Technology: Technology is enabling fashion wearers to experience the same emotion as Expressionist painters. Technologies such as thermochromic ink, reactive dyes, and light sensitive fabrics invoke feelings of mad intensity and deep introspection. As technology continues to advance, an unending variety of new applications are available to apply Expressionism to fashion.
  • Tapestry of Textures: Fibers, fabrics, and leather are playing a major role in the exploration of Expressionism in fashion, with unique textures being conjured up from traditional processes or from new material creations. These pieces often team up with glittery, wispy elements to evoke a dream-like effect.
  • Pop Culture Mashups: Pop culture, being deeply influenced by Expressionism, is an endless source of inspiration for new looks derived from the movement. These refresh the Expressionist classics, often turning them into playful pieces that look just as at home on the runway as on a movie set.
  • Retro Futurism: Expressionism maintains a presence in many modern avant-garde fashion collections, especially when applied to the endlessly sought-after retro-futuristic look. By weaving traditional Expressionism with modern trends, designers have found a way to keep the classic style of Expressionism alive in a way that resonates with today’s fashion world.

Expressionism in fashion has come a long way since its 20th century heyday. With old masters inspiring a new generation of fashion revolutionaries, Expressionism is experiencing a renaissance driven by creativity and imagination. After being dormant for years, the art form is back in full force.

6. A New Today: How Artism Is Creating a Fashion Revolution

Fashion, for most people, is about expression and identity. And yet, for a population that has long been excluded from the fashion world, even the most inspiring designs don’t always fit the bill. Artism is changing this narrative by disrupting the fashion industry with its unique approach to creating revolutionary, LGBTQ+ conscious and disabled-friendly fashion.

At the heart of Artism lies the idea that fashion isn’t just about creating items of clothing, it’s about inspiring confidence. Every piece in their collection has intricate details that offer a sense of freedom and expression to those wearing them.

Here’s how Artism is changing the fashion game:

  • They produce gender-neutral fashion to ensure everyone feels represented.
  • Their designs use hypoallergenic materials to guarantee they’re safe for everyone to wear.
  • They use proportions that make each piece supportive and comfortable for disabled and mobility-limited people.
  • Their bold colors, patterns and designs challenge society’s rigid beauty standards.

Artism is an emerging fashion brand for a generation who isn’t afraid to embrace alternative styles, stand up for what they believe in and, most importantly, be themselves. With its exciting new approach to fashion, Artism’s revolution marks the beginning of a new today.

Fashion is constantly being reimagined and explored. Art movements have played a large role in this process, from the heyday of Impressionism to the works of Surrealism. As fashion continues to evolve, so too will the influence of art movements. Together, they have created a unique cycle of continually inspired artistic and sartorial expression.

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