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June 2005
The art of fashion!
Steven Meisel, Four Days in LA, The Versace Pictures, 2001
Steven Meisel, Four Days in LA, The Versace Pictures, 2001
Art and fashion, fashion and art... Since the early 1990s the two have become increasingly linked and a new exhibition in Bradford, called Fashination, shows the glitz and glamour when the two worlds meet.
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Fashination, at Bradford's National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, gives visitors the chance to explore the relationship between art and fashion through the work of many world-famous designers, artists and photographers.

Top designer Alexander McQueen has lent some of his recent fashion creations to the show along with other famous designers like Viktor & Rolf and Hussein Chalayan. Several artists including Benoit Meleard and Turner Prize-nominated Yinka Shonibare will have their work on view to the public and well-established photographers Steven Meisel (for Versace) and Terry Richardson (for Sisley) showcase their fashion photography.

Vanessa Beecroft, Twins 5, Vogue Italia, October 2003
Vanessa Beecroft, Twins 5, Vogue Italia, October 2003

The photographers have a key-role in the relationship between fashion and art according to exhibition co-curator Lars Nittve: "At the centre of this zone of mutual, if not symmetrical, fascination we find fashion photographers. Some have come from the art world, others see the fashion world as their base, but their images work fantastically, albeit in a distinctly different way."

He says the borderline between art and fashion today has become blurred: "Many of the more notable fashion designers of our time produce collections and shows which, if they were exhibited in an art gallery or museum, would automatically be assimilated as art."

Lars himself is one of the founding fathers of Fashination. He says the idea was conceived in 1995 when an exhibition he worked on made a "tentative examination of the borderland between art and design." An early form of the show came in 2001 with a Steven Meisel exhibition in London which transferred Meisel's features of Versace from the pages of Vogue magazine to the walls of White Cube art gallery in London.

He says Fashination is not a statement about how art became fashion or vice-versa; instead he argues the show merely "poses questions that will probably lead to more questions, and to a few breathtaking, exhilarating experiences."

The artists were all specially chosen for the Fashination show because they are "cutting edge" says co-curator Magnus af Petersens: "We chose artists with an expressed interest in fashion and the fashion system - not just artists who made clothes or textile works. Most of the works had appeared or been commissioned for a fashion context. The same goes for photographers.

Viktor & Rolf, Bluescreen Collection, Autumn/Winter 2002-03
Viktor & Rolf, Bluescreen Collection, Autumn/Winter 2002-03

"We chose fashion designers who are cutting edge, avant-garde, challenging the rules of the fashion system, but who are also part of that system. Designers who are taken seriously in fashion and not only operating completely from the outside, or as artists."

Magnus says the reaction in his native Sweden has been diverse: "The audience were very enthusiastic. The international press was very positive, but the Stockholm press was mixed. Some critics accused it of being superficial, which is a traditional reflex reaction from many in the art world towards fashion.

"I am not sure how it will be received in Bradford. In general, I think the British audience has seen more exhibitions investigating the borderland between art and fashion and they may have a better possibility of comparing and seeing how ours is different."


You can see Fashination at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford from 10th June to 18th September 2005.

 
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