As part of my current project at college I have been looking at the appropriation of art in fashion... I find this really interesting and would like to share with you some of the pieces I have found!
One of the first and probably one of the most iconic examples this was in the shape of Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian Day Dress which was designed, just previous to the recognized start of postmodernism, in 1965. Saint Laurent noticed the beautiful minimalism of the shift dresses that were fashionable during this time and realised their potential to present block colours in a clear, vivid and balanced manner. Saint Laurent who was an art enthusiast and collector, re-imagined Piet Mondrian’s trademark painting style for his dress, with particular reference, I believe, to his earlier ‘Compositions’ such as ‘Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow’. He used Mondrian’s typical ‘neo-plasticist’ style of bold black lines on white with primary colours interposed between. In 1966 these distinctive dresses became very popular and there were many high street copies made, as well as patterns produced for it to be made at home.
Mondrian’s artwork and Saint Laurent’s interpretations have influenced many designers to this day, for example; Italian designer Francesco Maria Bandini’s 1991 three dimensional take, Nike’s 2008 Mondrian Edition Trainers and a Jean Charles de Castelbajac jacket (below) which features in La Roux’s 2009 video for Bulletproof .
The original 1965 dress still appeals to me as the most authentic appropriation of the ‘De Stijl’ style, I feel that often other designers have lacked the ability to apply the same strict simplicity and integrity of colour and straight line. The ‘Mondrian Day-Dress’ uses very intellectual tailoring as the lines and shapes are cut out individually and alone are not perfect geometric rectangles yet when draped on the female form appear to have this grid-like accuracy. That’s intelligent appropriation. However I think that little-known modern Australian designer Sarah Schofield’s use of colour block and strong line, in her swimwear collection, also does Mondrian’s methods justice and cleverly sculpts itself to the female figure while using black and white in a fresh and body flattering way.